Egypt… Land of mysteries for a mysterious stone! How could we not dedicate an entire post to an enigmatic and incredible civilization when they used Lapis Lazuli in almost every aspect of their lives? Lapis Lazuli Egypt Uses is a post where we can appreciate how they gave this stone an almost godly importance. Magical Lapis Lazuli found in incredible places like Hierakonpolis, the “Treasure of Tod” found in Amenemhat´s II tomb and of course it is impossible to talk about Ancient Egypt without talking of the famous Pharaoh Tutankhamun. We will continue to learn about the mystical Egyptian Civilization and we will also learn of the the beginning of Cosmos Egyptian studies.
The Egyptians saw in the Lapis Lazuli (lapis for short) stone a connection between its dark blue color with the night of the skies and the stars with the gold pyrite flecks, in other words, an image of the heavens. They saw life in the deep blue color of water and the divine in the immense blue of the sky. For all of this they used Lapis to portray it all.
Artists represented the Nile, the most important river of Ancient Egypt in blue. Blue was also the background color of the paintings portraying the royal graves in the Valley of the Kings.
Kings used head kerchiefs painted in blue and gold. Tutankhamen used jewelry of gold and lapis.
The Egyptians also utilized this stone in artwork, amulets, jewelry and cosmetics but their use on the hair and adornments of the heavenly Goddess Isis shows how much their culture cared for the metaphysical powers of lapis.
The Egyptian Goddess Isis was omniscient, all knowing and all seeing. They also believed that lapis lazuli held her soul so who possesses this stone had a connection with her knowledge, insight and magical powers.
Book of the Dead
One of the most recognized objects made by man with lapis lazuli is the incredible gold death facemask of Pharaoh Tutankhamun (also known as King Tut, 1332-1232 B.C.). Exhibited in the Egyptian museum, it remains a national symbol. The mask was stripped with horizontal pieces of lapis. The lapis was also inset into harps, lyres and decorative boxes holding the organs of the mummified person. Egyptian lapidaries preferred silver and lapis to gold and used it as eye shadow and pigment.
I have to make a parenthesis here and tell you guys that I have always been intrigued by the Egyptian culture. They were ahead of there time.
Egyptians made ushbati (tiny figures) with lapis lazuli inlaid in its eyes. Each ushbati represented a godly attribute that would help the royal person into their next life. The mummies had ushbati tucked between them.
Pharaoh Ramses listed Lapis Lazuli in his funeral items in the Book of the Dead of 2600 B.C., which is an ancient Egyptian funerary text. Furthermore, they were a loose collection of texts consisting of magic spells intended to assist a dead person journey through the underworld and into the afterlife and written by many priests over a period of about 1000 years.
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The Book of the dead also tells us that the amulet of the heart made for the process of mummification replacing the real heart, was made of lapis lazuli. It also had a passage engraved on the back.
It is written in the 140th chapter of the Book of the Dead that lapis in the shape of an eye set in gold was considered an amulet of great power. The book of the Dead has also paintings describing the hawk-like son of God Osiris destroying all evil.
Queen Hetepherus (2600-2500 B.C) had lapis into silver casings for bracelets, ankles and necklaces. Queen Iput had a beetle pendant of lapis. Queen Seneity had a lapis of ovoid beads with discs of gold, carnelian and green feldspar. Queen Nefru had also a tomb at Thebes containing lapis beads and Queen Ashotep (1650-1567 B.C) owned a diadem crown of lapis, gold, carnelian and feldspar.
Kings wore pectoral necklaces of lapis ad other stones. King Tutankhamen also wore a scarab bracelet of lapis symbolizing the Sun God. King Ramses (1292 B.C) required lapis as a tribute.
The Egyptians also made cartouches with the identity of the owner engraved in hieroglyphics. The cartouche was a rectangle on the back of the seal or a beetle scarab. The use of lapis for seals continued in Egypt.
Nammu has some amulets that can make you feel like an Egyptian Queen.
Amulets of deities inlayed with lapis lazuli were also made of Osiris, Horus, Maat, Tet, Ra, Bastet and Ibis.
Egyptian High Priests used lapis also for healing purposes. The healers grounded lapis into powder and swallowed to prevent gallstones. Egyptians also used lapis to prevent sleeplessness and melancholy or fever, as well as an ingredient for eyewash.
We can recognize the importance the Lapis Lazuli stone had for the Egyptians in life and in the afterlife. The Egyptians believed that its blue color was reminiscent of the heavens and symbolized creation and rebirth.
Magical Lapis Lazuli found in incredible places like Hierakonpolis, the “Treasure of Tod” found in Amenemhat´s II tomb and of course it is impossible to talk about Ancient Egypt without talking of the famous Pharaoh Tutankhamun. In Lapis Lazuli Blue Treasures we´ll continue to learn about the mystical Egyptian Civilization like we started in Lapis Lazuli Egypt Uses and we will also learn of the the beginning of Cosmos Egyptian studies.
Ancient Egyptian Lapis Lazuli
One of the most exquisite of all Lapis Lazuli objects can be a young lady of about nine centimeters tall. With a head covered with tight curls. It is of an excellent deep blue Lapis Lazuli. The lady balances now on a wooden peg inserted in the shoulders. It has rounded breasts and buttocks, shapely thighs, well marked knees.
In other words, a perfect work of art. How treasured she would have been, expensive, rare and made of a stone already regarded as sacred.
Her headless body was discovered by British archaeologists at the site of Hierakonpolis in 1897. She was found under the threshold of a temple (a sacred spot). Her unification was short of miraculous. In 1906, nine years after body was found, a British archaeologist found the head in the earlier diggings. It is said she dates back from around 2900B.C. Now she lives in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.
Every Egyptian hoped to be reborn after death but it was a perilous journey to the next world. A scarab would protect against its dangers. The best way to represent him was with the stone that symbolizes the sky or water, our beloved Lapis Lazuli. The most revered scarab replicas were made of Lapis Lazuli.
The Treasure of Tod
One important finding was “The Treasure of Tod”, discovered by French archaeologists in 1936 near the village of Kom. Here they found a hoard of raw Lapis as well as quantities of lapis beads and lapis seals buried at some point in four bronze caskets. They were inscribed with the name of Amenemhat II (1919-1865 B.C). Almost all the contents were of foreign origin, mostly the seals, Babylonian, Palestinian, Syrian and from eastern Iran.
One of the most abundant use of the sacred stone both as inlay but also returning to the sacred scarab as truly representing death and resurrection on the Nile was the Tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun. It was a small tomb in the Valley of the Kings on the west bank of the Nile. According to Wikipedia it was discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter.
Carter discovered the richest pharaonic burial site. Sarcophagus and mummy bedecked with gold and precious stones, Lapis lazuli and its imitations (glass and faience), carnelian and turquoise. The tomb was cramped with precious objects. It took Carter ten years to clear it of its treasures.
There were several magnificent pectorals across his chest, representative of the Birth of the Sun, set with huge Lapis Lazuli scarabs. A couple of bracelets consists of lapis scarabs guarded by serpents or uraei inlaid with lapis.
A Lapis Lazuli scarab was placed over the site of Tutankhamun´s heart to prevent the heart from incriminating him in the underworld´s Hall of Judgement.
In the medieval Egyptian “Book of Curiosities of the Sciences and Marvels for Eyes”, the buildings in the manuscript were painted with Lapis Lazuli, along with vermilion, gold and malachite green. The text, first composed in early eleventh century Egypt, is a medieval view of the cosmos. It is a cosmography dated around 1200. It is illustrated with maps of the heavens and of the earth. Blue is the color of the Universe, of the movement of the Sun and the Stars in the firmament merging into the Ocean.
The blue mineral Lapis Lazuli possessed purportedly life-giving powers. The Book of the Dead describes Horus, the hawk-like son of the God Osiris destroying all evil. After his deed he appears in the heavenly firmament in the form of a hawk and “his torso is made of blue stone”. Egyptian Blue (blue frit) was used in conjunction with lapis lazuli for painting eyes, hair and crowns of the pharaohs’ statues and sarcophagus. Nile, the most important river of ancient Egypt, is rendered in blue color on grave paintings.
Blue colored hippopotamuses produced by artisans were popular as symbols for the life-giving river. Nude female figures coated with blue glaze found in Egyptian graves might have represented life and Creation.
Egyptian Lapis Lazuli Jewelry
Nowadays lapis lazuli in Egypt is still considered a sacred stone, with its uses like we can appreciate in Modern day Lapis Lazuli Uses. The jewelers from today always try to imitate the beautiful creations from the past.
Egyptians saw Life in the deep blue color of water and the Divine in the immense blue of the sky. That is why the dawn of the symbolism of the color blue lies in Ancient Egypt.
Majestic Lapis Lazuli always surrounding the gods and royalty in life and the afterlife…
Nothing better than Lapis Lazuli representing this heavenly color. I hoped you enjoyed…