The History of Crystals: Lapiz Lazuli
The History of Crystals: Lapiz Lazuli


Lapis Lazuli has been a significant crystal throughout history and derives its name from the Persian word 'Lazur', which translates to blue. Lapis Lazuli crystals stand out from the crowd with their vivid azure blue, inclusions of pyrite and white calcite crystals. The best Lapis Lazuli in the world is mined in Afghanistan however there are also deposits in Chile, Russia and Myanmar (aka Burma). Interestingly, Chile's national stone is Lapis Lazili!

Lapis Lazuli Afghanistan

You will find Lapis Lazuli crystals mentioned in the Bible as it was a stone that adorned the second row of the breastplate of Aaron, the High Priest. In the Book of Exodus it was referred to as Sapir, however it is believed that this was most likely Lapis Lazuli due to the stone being described as being dark blue with specks of gold. In addition, the geology of the area would suggest that the stone was Lapis Lazuli and not Sapphire. Combine this with the fact that Lapis Lazuli only became known by its name in the Middle Ages, long after the Bible was written.

In ancient times, Lapis Lazuli was so valuable that only royalty were permitted to wear it. This blue crystal was so precious that it was used to adorn the funeral mask of the Pharaoh Tutankhamen of Egypt. It was also used by the Ancient Romans as an aphrodisiac!
Lapis Lazuli Tutankhamen Mask

If you are ever fortunate enough to cast your eye over paintings from the Renaissance period, you will likely see Lapis Lazuli in the great art works from this time. Lapis Lazuli was made into a blue dye by grounding it up, it was considered so valuable that it was only used in religious paintings or paintings of significant people. Michelangelo and Da Vinci were some of the artists that used Lapis Lazuli in their artworks.

Lapis Lazuli has also been used to decorate many significant buildings. For instance St Isaac's Cathedral in Saint Petersburg, Russia has 2 Lapis Lazuli columns (and 8 Malachite columns). You can also see a Lapis Lazuli tiled roof at The Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China!
St Isaac's Cathedral Saint Petersburg Lapis Lazuli

Lastly, and most fascinating, is an article I read where blue pigment was discovered in the teeth of a woman from 1000 years ago. Back in the Medieval Ages books were painstakingly reproduced by hand. It was not believed that women were talented enough to work with the ultramarine dye which was made from Lapis Lazuli. The discovery of these 1000 year old teeth put that theory on its behind! Check out the article here.

Other blogs to read 

If you'd like to find out more about crystals then have a look at some of our other blogs.

Temple of Heaven Lapis Lazuli

Crystals Blog: The History of Crystals: Lapiz Lazuli by Crystals Rock Australia

Located in Australia