18 February 2016

Ancient Blue

Blue was a latecomer among colours used in art and decoration, as well as in language and literature.

Blue pigments were originally made up of minerals, typically either lapis lazuli or azurite, most notably it was used for the eyebrows on the ceremonial mask of King Tutankhamen. Lapis lazuli, a natural deep blue semi-precious stone mined from Afghanistan, was too costly because it had to be imported across the desert from Afghanistan to Egypt. Starting in about 2500 BC, the ancient Egyptians began to produce their own blue pigment referred to as "Egyptian blue", created by grinding silicon dioxide, lime, copper and alkali and is considered the first artificial pigment.

Egyptians associated blue with the sky and with divinity, a colour which might shield the dead against evil in the afterlife. Legend has it that the Egyptian god Amun would make his skin blue so that he could fly invisibly across the sky. In the Mediterranean it is still common to wear a blue talisman, representing the eye of God to shield them from misfortune.

Egyptian blue was used to paint wood, papyrus and canvas, and was used to colour a glaze to create faience beads, inlays, and pots. Blue glass was manufactured in Mesopotamia and Egypt, using similar copper ingredients as Egyptian blue pigment.

We have scoured the market to bring together a fine selection of Lapis Lazuli and Egyptian style pieces from Grays.

Art Deco snake bangle, available from Leila in the Mews

Vintage 'Egyptian Revival' faience scarab bracelet, available from Arabella Bianco

Egyptian lapis lazuli necklace, available from Ornina

Gold plated mogul box, available from Marko Polo
Lapis lazuli intact Athena brooch with 21 carat gold frame, available from Ornina

Late Bronze Age pennanular neck torque, available from Ancient Jewellery
Austria brooch with lapis glass stones, avaliable from Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery

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