As you have noticed by now, Lapis Lazuli has been used for religious purposes before any other. Its uses go from the use in funeral rituals to the worshiping of gods. Lapis Lazuli Religion explains how the hand of God practically wrote on lapis Tablets. The importance for the Buddhists and Egyptians in their religions and Gods and how the Catholic Religion also used Lapis for almost every painting they ordered.
Some of the ritual veneration for the earlier gods was to acquire significant splendor to decorate the relics of earliest churches ad temples.
Tablets of the Law
One of the most incredible uses for lapis in history was in the Tablets of the Law given to Moses. It is written that the Law given to Moses on the Mount was engraved on tablets of sapphire. Here we should translate the word sapphire for lapis lazuli. First because the sapphire we know now was not yet discovered and second because there does not exist sapphires as big as the Law Tablets.
Thephrastus, an ancient scholar deciphered that sapphire in the Bible really meant Lapis Lazuli.
High Priest Breastplate
The First Breastplate
Aaron acted as the High Priest of the Twelve Tribes of Israel assigned by Moses. He was commanded to make a jeweled breastplate with twelve stones which represented the Twelve Tribes of Israel.
Lapis Lazuli was the fifth stone representing the tribe of Issachar.
The Archbishop of Mainz in his Rabanus Maurus (786-856 AD) said “Lapis Lazuli, the fifth stone signified Height of Celestial Hope”.
The Second Breastplate
The Second Breastplate was made 800 years later by a seal cutter. It was believed Lapis Lazuli was also used again as the fifth stone.
The Breastplate had the stones arranged in four rows of three stones across. It measured eight square inches. Each stone was approximately two inches by two inches in size.
- Lapis Lazuli
- Green Jasper
It has also been discovered by archaeologists that foundation deposits included two rectangular tablets particularly in the Ishtar Temples.
This tradition from 2000B.C shows us that lapis was not only to embellish a temple but also as a mixed element in the brick mortar of temple walls.
For Buddhism the color blue is also of utmost importance. Blue is also the symbol for the sky and the sea. Infinity in the sky also speaks of the limitless heights of ascension.
The best example of blues influence on Buddhism is the “Blue Buddha” also known as the Buddha of Medicine or Healing. It has a distinctive deep blue of Lapis Lazuli.
The Lapis Healing Master is one of the most honored figures in the Buddhist pantheon. In one of the main sutras (canonical texts) concerning the Medicine Buddha, Shakyamuni tells his close disciple and attendant Ananda:
The Egyptians made amulets of Deities inlayed with lapis like Osiris, Horus, Maat, Tet, Ra, Basket and also Ibis. Magnificent amulets like these ones you can also find in Nammu.com.
In the Egyptians funeral rituals, lapis was also extensively used in every aspect of the ceremony. They believed that lapis would help them cross to the afterlife.
The monks in charge of the sacred scripts and the Ecclesiastic Manuscripts also regulated the trade of lapis. The Ecclesiastic Manuscripts were bordered with crushed lapis pigment.
In addition, the Bishops also made ecclesiastical rings in Lapis because it was considered a chaste stone. Lapis was also commonly used for religious shrines and for their artisans, painters and decorative elements on the altars of churches.
The pontiff Clement VI (1342-1352) ordered the painting of the Chapel St. Michel, the Chapel St. Martial and also the Chapel of St. Jean. Italian artists from the Siennoise School directed by Matteo Giovanetti de Vitero were the ones in charge of the painting of the Chapel of Avignon. Matteo Giovanetti was also the official painter of many popes.
Master artists like Michelangelo, da Vinci, Fra Angelico and other artists also used lapis on their religious arts.
The most exquisite and my particular favorite in the whole world is Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel (1475-1564). Its use of lapis pigment for the blues of heaven is magnificent.
Lapis Lazuli was often reserved for the cloaks of Christ, angels as well as the Virgin Mary.
In conclusion, a stone also used to revere Gods or God. Its spiritual journey through the Silk Route to acquire the Lapis Lazuli for temples and churches superseded primitive quests.