Turquoise: Taking the blues away throughout the ages
The story behind how turquoise got its name is an interesting one!
During the 17th century, traders passed through Turkey (called “Turquie” in French) where the gemstone was called “Turquies”. The gemstone’s name therefore originated from ancient travels from Persia (Iran) to Europe via the Middle East! Just as interesting, is the fact that the oldest stone known to man is the only one that has a color named after it; ‘turquoise’ being a shade of blue.
When looking for turquoise for whichever purpose, it is worth the effort to buy only from reputable dealers who are happy to disclose all information about the stone. This is because it is a porous stone that can easily be dyed or mixed with Chrysocolla or green Malachite. Mixed stones can be recognized by blue and green spots, while a pure turquoise gemstone will have a deep and solid turquoise tone. Untainted turquoise is also quite soft and easily scratched.
Turquoise uses since pre-historical times
Turquoise has been held in high regard in different world civilizations since ancient times, such as the times of the Native Americans and the Persian empire. During those times, it was commonly used in ornamental ways; mostly for the symbolic meaning attached to it by those civilizations. In earlier times it was used in some ancient religions, wars, as a universal stone by Native American Indians and in jewelry. More recent times have put the emphasis of turquoise use on jewelry, while modern day metaphysicists believe that the gemstone contains several natural powers.
The Native Indians of the U.S. Southwest strongly revere the sky and water as part of their religion. Turquoise, to them, represents these elements because of its color. Ancient Native Indian priests wore turquoise when summoning the Great Spirit of the Sky. As they saw the gemstone as a universal stone, they also believed that wearing it made them become one with the universe. It furthermore denoted the God of the Sky alive on earth, and was used in prophesying and other divine actions because of its ability to change color. The Zuni Native Indians believed that wearing turquoise protected them from demons.
Many ancient domed buildings in the Middle East have turquoise tops due to its religious significance for the people, and almost all rites and religious ceremonies involved the use of the stone in one way or another in early times. To these people, turquoise symbolized immortality, nobility and wisdom.
In ancient Egypt, China and Persia, among the South American Aztecs and Incas, and also to the Native North Americans, turquoise was a holy stone which symbolized luck, power and protection. It was therefore used in all sorts of decorations for religious purposes, including jewelry.
Ancient Egyptians used turquoise in body armor, knives, swords and turbans for its believed powers of protection. The Egyptians trusted that using the stone in these ways, would make them less vulnerable and prevent an unnatural or untimely death.
The Native American Apache tribe, again, believed that attaching turquoise to any weapon would guarantee its accuracy, and also that it would protect them from injury. War horses would also be sure-footed if a piece of turquoise was attached to its mane.
Turquoise and Native American Indians
Turquoise and its believed benefits remain extremely important to Native American Indians even today. The Navajo tribe hunters wear it to ensure successful hunting while sheepherders wear it to improve the fertility of their sheep. The Pima believes that it attracts good luck and strength, and also that it has healing properties.
Many cultures around the world now produce turquoise jewelry but those made by the Southwest Native Americans are still considered to be the most desired ones. The different tribes specialize in their own styles, but all are sought after.
The Najavo tribe originally made beads out of turquoise, which they then used to make necklaces and other jewelry. After they had learnt to work with silver from the Spanish, they started incorporating this metal into their jewelry as well. Silver is however just used to enhance the natural beauty of the stones, which are often fairly large.
The Zuni tribe is known for carving the stones into various small shapes and then clustering them together to form a mosaic in their jewelry. They also incorporate silver in their jewelry.
In metaphysics turquoise is used for its believed spiritual value. It is seen as a stone of protection, healing and truth, and one that aids in spiritual attunement – much like it was viewed by early shamans and Native Indians.
In metaphysics turquoise is believed to aid individuals in being truthful and self-realizing. As it clears the throat chakra, it aids in constructive communication. Turquoise also opens the heart chakra to giving and receiving; healing the soul and spirit – and enhancing psychic abilities. As a grounding stone, it calms and strengthens both body and mind, brings about healing and absorbs negativity so that it doesn’t affect the person carrying the stone.
Whatever one’s take is on the information above and however skeptical one might be of it, the old saying “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire”, comes to mind. Stones only break bones when thrown at someone. Wearing one can only hurt in exceptional cases!