Jasper – one of July stones mascots

Our next entry in the 'Stone of the Month' column is about July jasper, a hard semi-precious stone (or its varieties, as other minerals with similar composition, physical and chemical properties are sometimes called jasper). Among the many varieties of quartz formations, this particular stone has absorbed the entire spectrum of sunlight - jasper comes in yellow-red, red, orange, yellow, green, brown, almost black and white. Jasper is an opaque coloured mineral, semi-precious or ornamental stone. It is comprised basically of quartz and chalcedony, supplemented by impurities. Manganese, iron, mica or chlorite, chaotically arranged, create the colouring and structure of the stone.

Jasper is very popular stone with huge number of varieties: wonder stone, red, grey (cartographic), Mookaite jasper, Kambamba jasper, bloodstone (heliotrope) and 'cobweb'. "Jaspis" was the name given to jasper in Rus', derived from the Greek "Iaspis", which means "mottled". The word 'jasper' itself became popular only from the 1950s onwards.

Jasper deposits are found all over the world. The largest and best known are located in Russia, the USA, India, Egypt and a number of European countries - the Czech Republic, Germany and France. The oldest mining sites are located in India and Egypt. Russian jaspers are considered the best in the world. The most famous is the mottled Orsk jasper. It is mined near the town of Orsk in the Southern Urals. The major deposit is located near Mount Polkovnik. Other famous South Urals jasper deposits are Sibai and Miasskoye. No less beautiful jaspers are mined in Altai, where there are famous deposits located near the town of Zmeinogorsk.

Jasper has thousands of years history, dating back to Neolithic times. At that time people valued the stone for its hardness and made tools from it -- arrowheads and spears. Jaspers were originally mined from the surface, but as early as 3-4 thousand years ago, they began to be mined underground. In ancient times, jasper was used to make seals and amulets. Later, people appreciated the "magical" value of the stone. For example, the stone was buried in the ground to make the harvest of fruit abundant.

In Russia, jasper enjoyed great popularity under Catherine the Great, who developed the stone-cutting business and promoted the creation of several large factories for processing jasper. The 19th century can be considered the heyday of jasper objects -- monumental works of art have come down to us - columns, bowls, floor lamps, table tops and even a jasper cabinet in the Pushkin Palace near St. Petersburg.

Modern lithotherapy calls jasper a natural stimulant. Jasper is believed to have a gentle healing effect on the human body. The mineral normalizes the functioning of all organs and systems, and its properties vary depending on its colour. In ancient times, healers and wizards believed that red jasper could stop the blood, and yellow jasper could cure stomach problems and return fertility to a woman.

Jasper is a source of beneficent energy. Jasper jewellery cannot do any harm to its owner. All items and jewellery made of jasper act as amulets. They bring happiness and peace in the house. Jasper is one of the most popular and accessible ornamental stones nowadays. It is widely used to decorate various haberdashery items such as cufflinks, tie-pins, rings, bracelets, brooches, as well as to make ashtrays, boxes, various candlesticks, writing implements, etc. Jasper is sometimes used as decorative facing stone (for decorating ceremonial interiors); it is one of the main materials of stone mosaics.

A new themed photo album "Jasper – the July mascot stone" is posted in the museum Photo Gallery.

Interesting facts:

- In the temple of Wat Phra Keo Don Tao, located in the small town of Lampang (Thailand), stands a statue of the Buddha made of green jasper and weighing 5 tons;
- The maces of Bogdan Khmelnitsky and Khan Amin were inlaid with precious stones and jasper;
- The Hermitage holds a giant green jasper vase over 5 meters in diameter and weighing 19 tons;
- The fireplaces of the Moscow Kremlin are faced with jasper;
- Alexander Pushkin wore a bracelet made of green jasper to improve his health.

Б. Anderson, "Identification of gemstones", Moscow, World of Stone 1996
Kornilov N.I., Solodova J.P. "Jewellery stones", M., Nedra, 1986