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The Magic & History of Turquoise

Although not specifically mentioned in the Bible, many scholars believe that the robe worn by the high priest Aaron was adorned with turquoise. Aristotle, Pliny and others refer to stones that must have been turquoise. After the fourth or fifth century AD, many writings appeared discussing the stone. Explorers such as Marco Polo took time to write about it.

Turquoise became a major trade and barter item for the early Persians. Persian turquoise was found in ancient graves in Turkistan, and in the first to third century AD, in graves throughout the Caucasus. Persian stones were much coveted in Afghanistan, and as far north as Siberia.

Jewelry containing turquoise has always been popular in Tibet, where it was highly revered, perhaps considered more valuable than gold. They had their own source of turquoise, usually with a green cast; a very hard stone often with a significant amounts of spider webbing. It would be fair to say that every Tibetan wore or carried a piece of turquoise throughout life. Turquoise was also used for currency in many areas of Tibet.

The history of turquoise in China dates to the thirteenth century AD. Although mining did exist, most stone came from trade with the Persians, Turks, Tibetans, and the Mongols. Much Chinese turquoise was used for carving and in other decorative ways. The Chinese are greatly fascinated by turquoise, and to them it is second only to jade. Turquoise was unknown until the 18th Century in Japan.

Turquoise was not of great import in early and medieval Europe. However, as Asian conquests and interactions with Europe occurred, seventeenth century Englishmen traveling there brought the style back with them. However, it was not until Victorian time that it became fashionable for European women to wear the stone. Victorian and Art Nouveau jewelry featured a good deal of turquoise.

As turquoise found its way into the mystic arts, ancient doctors exploited the stone's medicinal potentials, which varied from land to land and age to age. It was good for nearly every ailment including insanity. Turquoise is considered beneficial to general physical well-being, and its cooling nature is thought to help high blood pressure as well as to purify the blood and benefit the liver. Its colour could forecast good or bad, predict the weather and influence dreams. It was thought to prevent injury through accident and prevent blindness by placing perfect stones over the eyes. Egyptians mounted turquoise in silver to treat eyes suffering from cataract. It was ground into a salve or powder, and was rubbed on or ingested to cure stomach disorders, internal bleeding and ailments of the hip. It was even said to be used for snake bites and scorpions stings.

As a good luck talisman turquoise found usage in nearly every culture. Turquoise has been believed to confer foresight as well as protect the wearer from danger. In various countries, it is believed to fade when illness or danger is near. Another belief is that a fading stone indicates a lover's faithlessness or a friend's disaffection. In many cultures, the stone is regarded as a harbinger of good fortune, success and health. Aztecs and Egyptians considered it a symbol of prosperity. In India, one was to wear a turquoise on the little finger and look at the stone after seeing the new moon to gain great wealth. Since the fourteenth century, harnesses of dogs, horses and other animals have been decorated with turquoise to protect the animal and master from falling injuries.

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