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Sunday, January 6, 2008

Turquoise - The People's Stone

Bracelet by HonuEarthCreations
Turquoise - The People's Stone
By []Alan Beggerow

Turquoise is a stone familiar and valued since 3000 B.C.E. Ancient Egyptians, Persians, and Pre-Columbian Native Americans used it to make jewelry, mosaics, and carved it into many different shapes. The stone was unknown in Europe until the 14th century, when it was introduced by Turkish merchants. It is thought that the name of the stone was derived from the French word turc, which means Turk in English. This lead to the idea that the stone itself was mined by the Turks in their homeland. This is not true. The Turks were only merchants that dealt in the stone.

Rich deposits of turquoise mined in ancient times were located in Persia (modern day Iran), and some of the highest quality turquoise is still being mined there today. The stone is also found in Northern Africa, Australia, Siberia, and the American South West.

The Sacred Stone

Turquoise has been a sacred stone for many cultures. The Aztecs combined it with gold in ceremonial items. Some cultures believed that if a horse rider wore the stone it would protect them from falling off. It is a stone credited with bringing happiness and protection from accidents of all kinds, and with many other attributes. The stone is also thought to be one of the stones that make up the breastplate worn by Aaron in the book of Exodus of the bible. This breastplate had twelve gemstones on it, each one engraved with the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Some scholars believe that turquoise was one of these stones.

The sacredness of turquoise for Native Americans goes back before recorded time. It was carved into the shape of birds and animals. Some tribes put these carved items into tombs to help guard the dead and attract good spirits. The Shaman used turquoise for healing. Warriors attached the stone to the ends of their bows, for it was thought to ensure accurate arrow shots.

Although robin egg blue is the most familiar and most highly valued color for the stone, it can be sky blue, various shades of blue-green, to greenish gray. It is not always a solid color, and can have gradations of color within individual stones. Some stones have veins of other material running through them.

A very high quality turquoise can be expensive, but there are many beautiful stones available at a reasonable price. While this stone has been used and appreciated by royalty and the rich through the ages, it has also been available and appreciated by people in more common circumstances. And it remains the same to this day. A stone for all who appreciate its beauty, and its afford-ability. It is indeed The People's Stone.

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