This necklace, the parts of which were found about the neck of a body, presumably that of a young man, was composed of rounded and annular beads of carnelian and shell, as well as of flat, perforated fragments of turquoise and almandine garnet and an approximately lozenge-shaped bead of amethyst 1.
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The chief ornament was the turquoise ibex 1. That there was in Egypt a strong inclination to use a certain particular stone for a given amulet, will be noted in the case of those inscribed with special chapters of the Book of the Dead. This is also true of amulets of certain forms. Of the heart amulets, numbering 47 in the rich collections of the Cairo Museum, nine are of carnelian, four of hematite, two of lapis-lazuli, and two each of green porphyry and green jasper, carnelian being thus the most favored among the more precious materials.
Amulets of animal form are plentifully represented in this collection, figuring a large variety of members of the animal kingdom such as the hippopotamus, crocodile, lion, bull, cow, hare, dog-headed ape, cat, dog somewhat doubtful , jackal, hedgehog, frog, hawk, cobra and fishes, to which list may be added a four-headed ram and a ram-headed sphinx.
One of the special uses of amulets was for seafaring people, for, in ancient times especially, all who went down to the sea in ships were greatly in need of protection from the fury of the elements when they embarked in their small sailing-vessels. A fragment of a Greek Lapidary, 23 probably written in the third or fourth century of our era, gives a list of seven amulets peculiarly adapted for this purpose.
The number might suggest a connection with the days of the week, and the amulets 39 were perhaps regarded as most efficacious when used on the respective days. In the first were set a carbuncle and a chalcedony; this amulet protected sailors from drowning. The second had for its gem either of two varieties of the adamas,—one, the Macedonian, being likened to ice this was probably rock-crystal , while the other, the Indian, of a silvery hue, may possibly have been our corundum; however, the Macedonian stone was regarded as the better. A coral was placed in the fifth amulet, and this was to be attached to the prow of the ship with strips of seal-skin; it guarded the vessel from winds and waves in all waters.
For the sixth amulet the ophiokiolus stone was selected, most probably a kind of banded agate, for it is said to have been girdled with stripes like the body of a snake; whoever wore this had no need to fear the surging ocean. The seventh and last of these nautical amulets bore a stone called opsianos , apparently a resinous or bituminous material, possibly a kind of jet; this came from Phrygia and Galatia, and the amulet wherein it was set was a great protection for all who journeyed by sea or by river.
The ancient treatises on the magic art show that the use of amulets was considered to be indispensable for those who dared to evoke the dark spirits of the nether-world, for without the protection afforded by his amulet the magician ran the risk of being attacked by these spirits. A costly Chinese amulet consists of the diamond, the ruby, and the emerald, to which are added the pearl and coral; Oriental sapphire and topaz are classed with the ruby.
Sometimes these five princely gems are wrapped up in a paper bearing the names of the respective divinities, to which is added the name of the moon, and those of the twenty-seven constellations, or houses of the moon. Such an amulet, suspended at the entrance of a house, is believed to afford protection to the inmates. That gems had sex is asserted by the earliest writers 41 as well as by many of those of a later date. While this must usually be understood as a poetic way of indicating a difference in shade, the darker varieties being regarded as male and the lighter ones as female, Theophrastus, the earliest Greek writer on precious stones, clearly shows that this sexual distinction was sometimes seriously made, for he declares that, wonderful as it might seem, certain gems were capable of producing offspring.
This strange idea was still prevalent in the sixteenth century, and ingenious explanations were sometimes given of the cause of this phenomenon, as appears in the following account by Rueus of germinating diamonds: It has recently been related to me by a lady worthy of credence, that a noblewoman, descended from the illustrious house of Luxemburg, had in her possession two diamonds which she had inherited, and which produced others in such miraculous wise, that whoever examined them at stated intervals judged that they had engendered progeny like themselves.
The pearl-fishers of Borneo are said to preserve carefully every ninth pearl they find, and place them in a bottle with two grains of rice for each pearl, believing, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, that these particular pearls have the power to engender and breed others. Custom and superstition require that each bottle shall have the finger of a dead man as a stopper. Talismanic influences are taken into account in the 42 wearing of jewelry by Orientals, two bracelets being frequently worn lest one member should become jealous of the other, thus disturbing the equilibrium of the whole organism.
The piercing of the ears for ear-rings has been attributed to a desire to chastise the ear for its indiscretion in hearing secrets not intended to be heard, while costly and ornamental ear-rings are set in the ears to console those parts of our anatomy for the suffering caused by the operation of piercing. At an early date the Christian Church registered its opposition to the practice of wearing amulets. At the Council of Laodicea, held in A. In later times the invincible tendency to wear objects of this character found expression in the use of those associated with Christian belief, such, for instance, as relics of the saints, medallions blessed by the priest, etc.
The amulets of the Jews differed in many respects from those used by Christians. The Mosaic prohibition of representations of human or animal forms imposed great restrictions upon the employment of engraved gems, and the Jew was only permitted to wear or carry those bearing merely characters of mystic or symbolic significance. In talmudic times amulets were sometimes hidden in a hollow staff, and they were believed to have more power when concealed from view in this way. They were like concealed weapons, and it was said that, as a father might give such an amulet to a son, so God had given the Law to Israel for its protection.
In the Old French didactic poem, the Roman de la Rose , composed in the twelfth century, appear traces of the belief in the magic properties of precious stones. Chaucer translated this poem into English in the fourteenth century and we quote the following lines from his version. They describe the costume of the symbolical figure, Riches. At the trial, in , of Hubert de Burgh, chief justiciar, one of the charges brought against him was that he had surreptitiously removed from the English treasury an exceedingly valuable stone, possessing the virtue of rendering the wearer invincible in battle, and had given it to Llewellyn, King of Wales, the enemy of his own sovereign, Henry III of England That precious stones could, under certain circumstances, lose the powers inherent in them was firmly believed in medieval times.
If handled or even gazed upon by impure persons and sinners, some of the virtues of the stones departed from them.
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Indeed, there were those who held that precious stones, in common with all created things, were corrupted by the sin of Adam. Therefore, in order to restore their pristine virtue it might become 45 necessary to sanctify and consecrate them, and a kind of ritual serving this purpose has been preserved in several old treatises. The subject is sufficiently curious to warrant here the repetition of one of these forms. The stones which required consecration were to be wrapped in a perfectly clean linen cloth and placed on the altar.
Then three masses were to be said over them, and the priest who celebrated the third mass, clad in his sacred vestments, was to pronounce the following benediction: The Lord be with us. And with thy spirit.
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Let us pray. Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, in whom dwells all sanctification, benediction, and consecration; who lives with Thee and reigns as God for all eternity, Amen. Thanks be to God. But Duke Albert of Saxony acted shrewdly. Of a crystal aggregation of this type he writes as follows: Opaque, rough-surfaced, jagged on the edge, distorted in the spine, it exhibits a quite human image of decrepitude and dishonour; but the worst of all signs of its decay and helplessness is, that halfway up, a parasite crystal, smaller, but just as sickly, has rooted itself in the side of the larger one, eating out a cavity round its root, and then growing backwards, or downwards, contrary to the direction of the main crystal.
Yet I cannot trace the least difference in purity of substance between the first most noble stone, and this ignoble and dissolute one. The impurity of the last is in its will or want of will. It is considered an exceedingly good omen when it happens that all three gems are of the same sort. This idea is elaborated by Marbodus, Bishop of Rennes, in the eleventh century, who declares that agates make the wearers agreeable and persuasive and also give them the favor of God.
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The agate possessed some wonderful virtues, for its wearer was guarded from all dangers, was enabled to vanquish all terrestrial obstacles and was endowed with a bold heart; this latter prerogative was presumably the 52 secret of his success. Some of these wonder-working agates were black with white veins, while others again were entirely white.
The wearing of agate ornaments was even believed to be a cure for insomnia and was thought to insure pleasant dreams. In spite of these supposed advantages, Cardano asserts that while wearing this stone he had many misfortunes which he could not trace to any fault or error of his own. He, therefore, abandoned its use; although he states that it made the wearer more prudent in his actions.
By this method he apparently arrived at positive results based on actual experience; but he quite failed to appreciate the fact that no real connection of any kind existed between the stones and their supposed effects.
According to the text accompanying a curious print published in Vienna in , the attractive qualities of the so-called coral-agate were to be utilized in an air-ship, the invention of a Brazilian priest. Over the head of the aviator, as he sat in the air-ship, there was a network of iron to which large coral-agates were attached. The main lifting force was provided by powerful magnets enclosed in two metal spheres; how the magnets themselves were to be raised is not explained.
In the network above the figure were to be set coral-agates, supposed to possess such magnetic powers as to keep the craft aloft.
III, Franckfurt am Mayn, , p. About the middle of the past century, the demand for agate amulets was so great in the Soudan that the extensive agate-cutting establishments at Idar and Oberstein in Germany were almost exclusively busied with filling orders for this trade. Brown or black agates having a white ring in the centre were chiefly used for the fabrication of these amulets, the white ring being regarded as a symbol of the eye. Hence the amulets were supposed to neutralize the power of the Evil Eye, or else to be emblematic of the watchfulness of a guardian spirit. Even at present a considerable trade in these objects is still carried on.
That there is a fashion in amulets is shown by the fact that, while red, white, and green amulets are in demand on the west coast of Africa, only white stones are favored for this use in Northern Africa.
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There are a few talismanic stones which have gained their repute in our time, notably the alexandrite, a variety of chrysoberyl found in Russia, in the emerald mines on the Takowaya, in the Ural region. The stone as found in gem form rarely weighs over from one to three carats, and is characterized by a marked pleochroism of a splendid green changing to a beautiful columbine red. But in Ceylon much larger gems are found, some few weighing 55 60 carats each, although rarely of more than one or two carats.
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The color is of a darker and more bottle-like green, and the change by night renders them darker and more granitized than the Russian stones, which are extremely rare. As red and green are the Russian national colors, the alexandrite has become a great favorite with the Russians, and is looked upon as a stone of good omen in that country.
Such, however, is its beauty as a gem that its fame is by no means confined to Russia, and it is eagerly sought in other lands as well. Amber was one of the first substances used by man for decoration, and it was also employed at a very early period for amulets and for medicinal purposes. More or less shapeless pieces of rough amber, marked with circular depressions, have been found in Prussia, Schleswig-Holstein, and Denmark, in deposits of the Stone Age.
A more prosaic explanation likened amber to resin, and regarded it as being an exudation from the trunks of certain trees. Indeed, the poetic fancy we have just noted is the same idea clothed in a metaphorical or mythological form.