Lapis lazuli is one of the December mascot stones

Our new publication under the heading "Stone mascot of the Month" is about the December lapis lazuli. A newthemed photo album "Lapis Lazuli - one of December mascot stones” is posted in the museum Photo Gallery.

Lapis lazuli is a beautiful bright blue stone, resembling the dark southern sky, studded with golden stars, that has been used by man since ancient times. In the 5th and 1st centuries BC it was known as sapphire. The modern name lapis lazuli was introduced in the 18th century. In ancient times, it found its way by complicated routes from Afghanistan to China, Egypt, Byzantium and Rome. In Italy, it was known as lapis lazzili and in France as pierre d'azur. Lapis lazuli received its name from the Persian لاجورد (lazavard) meaning blue stone. The best stones are considered to be rich blue or blue-violet, as well as deep blue.

It is found in veins or as inclusions in other rocks, mostly in granite. Lapis lazuli of multifarious shades is mined in various countries and regions. In Chile and Pamir, lapis lazuli is famous for the light color stones, while in Transbaikalia, the stones feature a unique pattern of white stripes and spots. Lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, also known as Badakhshan, is considered the most valuable. The first mines of lapis lazuli in Afghanistan were better protected than Royal palaces. Their location was considered a top secret. Anyone who strayed into the forbidden territory was rigorously killed, be it a commoner or a noble lord. The only one who could possess lapis lazuli in those days was the Emir.

Lapis lazuli is an infrequent stone. Until the 18th century, Badakhshan was the only deposit in the world. Even today, the most valuable and beautiful lapis lazuli with pronounced pyrite sparkle is mined only there.

The history of this mineral dates back over 7000 years. Lapis lazuli was used for decoration in the luxurious palaces of the Eastern rulers and for making a valuable deep blue color paint. In Ancient Egypt, it was customary to make gold setting for this stone and wear it as jewellery.

The connection with the heavens, and therefore with the deities that traditionally inhabited them, was seen in lapis lazuli by all cultures. The Egyptians regarded lapis lazuli as a stone of the supreme god Amon-Ra, the Sumerians identified it with the goddess Inanna. In Christian symbolism, the blue and azure gem represents the Virgin Mary. Of the twelve biblical stones, lapis lazuli is the most frequently mentioned in the sacred Scripture. According to legend, it was used to make the Testimonies of the Ten Commandments which God gave to Moses. As a sign of the divinity of this mineral, many ancient temples and mosques are decorated with lapis-lazuli mosaics.

By its name, the natural mineral lapis lazuli is known to artists of all trends and directions. Persistent blue pigment, natural ultramarine is produced from Lapis Lazuli. Its use in ancient times had been confirmed by Egyptian paintings already. Although synthetic light blue pigment made from copper sawdust, the so-called "Egyptian blue", was in greater demand there. However, the Egyptians' cult of blue did not allow them to ignore the art potential of lapis lazuli. Lapis lazuli has also been found in the monuments of antiquity and in the works of the Arab East. Moreover, a cult had been created around it since the Middle Ages and the Byzantine school of Christian painting. The first canonized Russian icon-painting genius, Andrei Rublev, used lapis lazuli to create his own shade of blue. The recipe for the famous blue shade of Rublev was lost, but the icons that he painted are alive and revered. Speaking of the Russian Empire, it is worth saying that lapis lazuli was also valued there, and architectural monuments that are decorated with this stone have survived to this day:
   The columns of St. Isaac's Cathedral;
   the columns of the Winter Palace;
   the halls of the Peterhof palace.

Lazurite used for jewelry is dark blue compound rock without visible light inclusions. The jewelry varieties of the mineral include dense lapis lazuli of dark blue, cornflower, and purple shades. It is processed as cabochos or plates. Lapis lazuli is used to create for decorative vases, boxes, statuettes. In the form of thin plates it is used for inlaying in mosaic art works, as well as for columns and mantelpieces cladding, etc.

- Lapis Lazuli has always been used for white magic.
- It is believed that this stone can bring success and prosperity to its wearer.
- The stone is a symbol of sincerity and symbolizes purity of thought and soul.
- It can help clean the aura of the wearer.
- When set in silver, the stone becomes an amulet that protects from negative influences.
- If one is hesitant to make a change, then lapis lazuli jewellery is a good choice, especially in the form of beads and bracelets.
- The stone speeds up the process of positive change in the life of the wearer.
- Set in gold, lapis lazuli attracts good fortune and brings success in love relationships.
- Lapis lazuli has anti-inflammatory and anti-burn properties, and helps with bruises, asthma, anemia, and nervous exhaustion.

In the Russian Empire, this mineral was used for the treatment of almost every ailment. The Empress Anna Ioannovna cured rheumatism by putting a slab of blue stone under her back. Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great, used a footstool made of lapis lazuli to suppress attacks of gout.

Source: Jewellery stones. N.I. Kornilov, Yu. Moscow "Nedra". 1986