If you have ever wondered about the origin of the turquoise stones in a bracelet from Saudi Arabia or the little turquoise beads in an earring from Bukhara, you may be in luck. Arash Khazeni's book Sky Blue Stone: the Turquoise Trade in World History, published by the University of California Press in 2014, may supply some answers.
Khazeni describes how turquoise has been found in 'a wide sweep of mineral-bearing strata extending from Egypt through Iran to Tibet' ... from the blue stones extracted by the ancient Egyptians from the mines in Sinai to the greener stones that were offered in tribute to the Buddha in Tibet. But his main focus is on the bluest and best stones - the sky-blue stones- that were produced by the mines near Nishapur in Persia. He discusses how these stones - precious and sacred as they were - were controlled and used in tribute and exchange throughout the empires of the Middle East, Central Asia and north India; and how they were transported far and wide by caravan along the trade routes long before they were introduced to Europe through the Ottoman empire.
This is a rich source of information, based on research, which throws a clear light on the history of turquoise and, closer to home, on the background of the stones in many of our favourite pieces of jewellery.
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