Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Porphyry, verdigris, lapis lazuli

The names of colors, the history of colors, the color of colors all make me feel a feeling that's hard to explain - maybe I have synesthesia :) Anyway, here are a few colors I especially like ...

Porphyry, from the Greek Πορφύριος which means 'purple-clad' is a color I first learned of in ancient art history - the stone with its name was used often in Greek and Roman art and architecture and in Byzantine as well (Hagia Sophia).

- The Tetrarchs, a porphyry sculpture sacked from a Byzantine palace in 1204, Treasury of St. Mark's, Venice

Verdigris is the vivid green color of copper (and bronze) patina ..... "A color know as verdigris is green. It is very green by itself. And it is manufactured by alchemy, from copper and vinegar." - Cennino Cennini, Il Libro dell' Arte. You can sometimes find a patina on ancient coins and bronze statues.

- the Charioteer of Delphi

Lapis lazuli: I first saw the colored stone in slides of Egyptian artifacts in an ancient art history class, - it was said to be used (ground uo) by Cleopatra as eye shadow :) It was also used as a pigment in medieval art, especially manuscript illumination, and was more expensive than gold during the Renaissance. Now you can buy a small tube of that color (known as ultramarine) for a few dollars.

- a solar pendant with a scarab of lapis lazuli from the tomb of Tutankhamun


Blogger Liam said...

I am a huge fan of lapis lazuli. I brought a small sample to the tattoo artist when I had my second tattoo so he could match the color.

It was big in ancient Mesopotamia, too... A sign of trade, since they could only get it in the place that is now Afghanistan.

7:54 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

A second tattoo - where's this one?

9:59 PM  
Blogger Liam said...

On my left lower leg -- it's the eighth beatitude in ancient Syriac.

3:38 AM  
Blogger crystal said...


11:48 AM  
Anonymous Lex said...

Whoa, the scarab is amazing. Those Pharaohs had style didn't they. What's the red stone above it?

7:17 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

I'm not sure - maybe Carnelian?

2:07 PM  

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