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In Pursuit of a Celestial Stone
The amazing quality of lapis lazuli, the purity of its colour and the mystery of its origins have meant that it has been pursued through the ages as a rare and precious gemstone. Sarah Searight’s passion, set ablaze at school by a line in a poem by Robert Browning, has led to a lifetime in search of the stone itself and the role it played in the great civilisations of the Old World. In this book Sarah Searight seeks out the stone across a number of cultures and their histories and traverses a wide geographical area from Saharan Africa and the Middle East, to Central Asia and into Europe. She examines the different perceptions and the role of lapis lazuli from its origins, usually in the remote mountains of north western Afghanistan. She takes us into both remote and familiar worlds where this remarkable stone cast its own spell to represent different things to different societies. We learn of its use not only as an item of jewellery but how its use and acquisition was often almost a royal prerogative and how it had an enduring sacred dimension. The common theme is its rarity, the purity of its colour and its perennial association with the exclusiveness of power. She also outlines how the modern world perceives lapis lazuli, looks at the current marketplace and the dangers for the present-day buyer.
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