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Handcrafted 51½ct Nubia Jasper Ancient Babylonian Minoan Crete Knossos Seal Gem #59920

Cost: $ 69.99

Antique Nineteenth Century Genuine Natural Fifty One and One-Half Carat Plus Hand Crafted/Polished Nubian “Picasso” Jasper Semi-Precious Gemstone. Contemporary Gold or Silver Electroplate Chain.

CLASSIFICATION: Polished Jasper Cabochon Semi-Precious Gemstone. 

ORIGIN: Nubia; 19th Century; Handcrafted in Siberian Southern Urals near Yekaterinburg.

SIZE: Length: 34mm. Width: 23mm. Depth (Thickness): 7mm. Measurements approximate.

WEIGHT: 51.48 carats.

Chain: Contemporary gold or electroplate in your choice of length (16, 18, 20 or 24 inch – 40, 45, 50 or 60 centimeters). A wide variety of other chains are available upon request in sizes from 16 to 30 inches, and in metals ranging from gold and silver electroplate to sterling silver and solid 14kt gold. We also have available handcrafted Greek black leather cords. 

Mankind’s relationship with Jasper, especially red jasper, dates back as early as (20,000 B.C.) in France where it was found to be used for ornamental objects, to the classical Mediterranean of the ancient Greeks, Romans, Persians, Phoenicians, and Hebrews. In between those times it was also of religious significance to the Ancient Egyptians, who associated it with Isis and Osiris; was used in jewelry and bow drills in the Harrappan culture of Indus Valley India (5th millennia B.C.); and was used both by the ancient (second millennia B.C.) Babylonians and Minoans in seals which have been found in ancient ruins (such as at the Palace of Knossos). In ancient China, green jasper was often used by the Chinese in place of (much more costly) jade in the mouth of the dead.

Here's a very nice quality 19th century antique hand crafted/shaped/polished jasper semi-precious gemstone from the Nubian region of Southern Egypt/Sudan. Though this particular variety of Jasper, known contemporarily as “Picasso Jasper” did not figure specifically in the production of religious amulets in ancient Egypt, nonetheless the fabled land of <A HREF="http://www.touregypt.net/historicalessays/nubia.htm"> ancient Nubia </A> was the source of the red jasper held so precious by the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Carved into jewelry and religious amulets, red jasper was obtained from the Nubian Upper Nile, typically in the form of annual tributes to the Pharaoh. As well ancient Egypt received annual tribute of their treasured red jasper from “the land of Punt”. But there exact whereabouts of Punt (and the pygmy black tribesmen of legend) remains a mystery today. A religiously significant amulet known as an “Isis Tit” was carved from red jasper and placed at the throat of the mummified remains of Egyptian Pharaohs and Royalty.

This 19th century “Picasso” jasper gemstone originated from the same Nubian region which presently is part of both Southern Egypt and Northern Sudan. The gemstone was handcrafted by a 19th century Russian artisan (in or near Yekaterinburg, Siberia, Russia) into this beautiful polished cabochon. Yes! This is a natural gemstone, colored only by mother nature, it is not dyed. It was intended for use in the domestic jewelry production that Renaissance and Victorian Russia was so famous for. Jasper, as well as other forms of agate, were extremely popular throughout the ancient Mediterranean, and maintained its immense popularity through Renaissance and into Victorian Europe. This is a jewelry quality gemstone, and the coloration is absolutely exquisite. It takes no imagination to comprehend why it is referred to as “Picasso” jasper in the modern world. 

Jasper and other various varieties of agate have been popularly used through recorded history for the production of jewelry, beads, and amulets due to the vibrant rainbow of colors agate naturally occurs in. Agate amulets produced by Stone Age man in France has been discovered, dating the known use of agate back to approximately 20,000 B.C. Handcrafted by a nineteenth century Russian artisan into this beautiful polished cabochon, it was intended for use in the domestic jewelry production. This is a jewelry quality gemstone, and was colored entirely by nature! The gemstone has not been dyed or altered in any respect, except to be cut and polished. However close examination of the gemstone reveals that the gemstone has been hand shaped and hand finished. The slight irregularities which are the hallmark of a handcrafted gemstone are generally regarded as appealing to most gemstone collectors, and are not considered detrimental. 

Unlike today’s computer controlled machine finished gemstones, the cut and finish of a gemstone such as this is the legacy of an artisan who lived two centuries ago. Such antique hand-crafted gemstones possess much greater character and appeal than today's mass-produced machine-produced gemstones. However for most, the unique nature and character of antique gemstones such as this more than makes up for miniscule blemishes and cutting imperfections which by and large, are only visible under high magnification. This gorgeous gemstone comes with your choice of chain in either gold or silver electroplate, in a length of your choice between 16 and 24 inches. We also have other chain options which include handcrafted Greek leather cords, sterling silver, 14kt gold fill, or 14kt solid gold, in lengths from 16 to 30 inches.

HISTORY OF JASPER: Jasper is a form of agate, and belongs to the chalcedony family of gemstones, which in turn is part of the quartz family of gemstones. Jasper is very similar to citrine and amethyst in make up, but possessing such large amounts of trace elements such as iron and sulfur (which provide the colors) that they are opaque rather than transparent. The biggest difference between a red jasper and a citrine is that there is probably 20% to 30% more iron in the sasper. The crystals in jasper gemstones are so dense and so tightly compacted that they are invisible to the naked eye. It often contains organic material and mineral oxides which give it interesting patterns, bands and colors. Many of these patterns resemble landscapes with mountains and valleys. Jasper occurs in red, green, blue, brown, pink, purple, yellow, white, gray and black.

Jasper was a favorite gem in ancient times and is referenced in Greek, Roman, Hebrew, Persian, East Indian Indus Valley (Harappan), Assyrian and Latin literature. In the Bible jasper was described as one of the twelve stones in the breastplate of Aaron, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Referenced again in the New Testament, jasper is listed as one of the foundation stones of post-apocalyptic New Jerusalem. The name Jasper comes to us from the Greek language. “Jaspis”, or the ancient spelling “Iaspis” meaning “spotted stone”. It was also the name of a mythical stone found in the head of the adder snake. Greek warriors carried a jasper talisman to give them courage in battle. This association with bravery and warriors carried all the way into the Middle Ages, where one name for jasper was "the stone of warriors."

Early Mediterranean shamans or wizards believed that jasper was a very sacred stone. Blue colored Jaspers were used to travel safely back and forth to the Spirit World. Red Jasper represented the blood of the Great Mother and was used to connect with the Earth in healing ceremonies. Green Jaspers were used to call the rain. Magicians in fourth century Britain placed carved Jasper bowls at the corners of a farmer's field to bring rain for the crops (many American Indian tribes shared the belief that jasper had the ability to bring rain).

According to the Medieval Norse tenth century Volsunga Saga (click for more on this legend), the sword hilt of Sigurd (also known as Siegfried), a legendary hero of Viking mythology and son of Sigmund the king, was set with jasper. Medieval authors of the 11th and 12th centuries wrote volumes about the protective powers of the Jasper. It was written that the gemstone drove away evil spirits and protected the wearer from the bites of poisonous snakes and spiders. It was also recommended that women hold a piece of jasper in the hand during childbirth to guard against the evil that could come to the mother and child by demons of the air. Physicians in the Middle Ages wore jasper amulets to aid them in their diagnoses, and stocks of jasper were kept in every pharmacy. Jasper was thought to drive away evil spirits and cure fevers, dropsy, and epilepsy. It was also believed to quicken thought and action, and at the same time ensure caution and the avoidance of needless risk.

However mankind’s relationship with Jasper, especially red jasper, is much more ancient than merely Medieval Europe, or even the Classical Greeks. It dates back as early as Stone-Age France (20,000 B.C.) where it was found to be used for ornamental objects; and to the ancient Babylonians (1,000 B.C.) where it was used in seals which have been found in ancient ruins. In between the Neolithic Stone Age and the Babylonians, green jasper was used to make bow drills in the Harappan Indus Valley civilization 7,000 years ago (circa 5,000 B.C.), and jewelry shortly thereafter. On Minoan Crete jasper was carved to produce seals almost 4,000 years ago (circa 1800 B.C.), as evidenced by archaeological recoveries at the palace of Knossos. In ancient China, green jasper was often used by the Chinese in place of (much more costly) jade in the mouth of the dead.

The ancient Egyptians used red jaspers to represent the blood of their goddess Isis. Amulets of the gem were said to have the same attributes as the goddess' blood itself, and when worn as an amulet helped prepare one for the judgment of Osiris upon death. Thus Chapter 156 of the Book of the Dead required the amulet in the form of the Girdle Tit of Isis, placed at the throat of the mummy, to be made of red jasper, whose blood-like coloring would enhance the words of the spell: ‘You have your blood, Isis; you have your power.’ You can see an outstanding red jasper amulet of this style, courtesy of The British Museum, by clicking right here. Emanating from the same powers of Isis, an amulet carved of red jasper in the form of a serpent’s head was believed to prevent the body from being bitten by snakes in the underworld. The ancient Egyptians also carved sacred scarab amulets from red jasper as a symbol of eternal life.

The ancient Egyptian word for red jasper, khenmet (hnmt), was derived from the verb “hnm”, and meant “to delight”. Red jasper was extremely popular in Ancient Egypt, expensive, and especially favored for use in earrings (click here to see red jasper earrings of ancient Egyptian/Nubian origin). Red jasper came to ancient Egypt from Nubia (a region laying between present-day Southern Egypt and Sudan) and from Punt (somewhere as yet unknown in Africa) in the form of regular tributes to the Pharaoh. In fact an ancient papyrus detailing the tribute from Nubia survives to present time (see here). Red jasper tributes from both Nubia and Punt were discovered in the Thebes tomb of Rekhmire and the tomb of Iamunedjeh; both were high officials of King Tuthmosis III (1450 B.C.).

Jasper was also carved into intaglio seals (as in signet rings), not only by the ancient Egyptians, but by the ancient Greeks and Romans as well, and was also very popular for use as carved cameos. You can see an outstanding red intaglio seal of Marc Antony, courtesy of The British Museum, by clicking right here. The ancient Greeks and Romans believed that if athletes wore the stone they would gain endurance. The ancient Greeks called it heliotrope sun (helios) and turner (tropos) because it was believed to turn the sun red if the sun’s reflection was shown in a bowl of water holding the stone.

Mankind’s belief that Jasper contained magical powers persisted well into the Middle Ages where jasper was a favorite gemstone with shamans, magicians and mystics. Blue jasper was used as a medium to connect with the afterworld; red jasper was believed to enhance health, concentration, self-discipline, energy, focus and to shepherd a soul toward rebirth; yellow jasper protected the user while traveling to the spirit world; and brown jasper also providing protection in the form of “grounding”. One particular jasper known as “bloodstone” is a green stone with drops and splotches of red. The variety was so named by ancient Christians who believed that it represented the blood of the crucifixion dripping from Christ’s wounds onto a dark green stone that lay beneath it. Due to this belief, bloodstone became the favored stone of the Crusaders.

Jasper was used widely during the Renaissance in an art form known as “commesso”, the roots of which can be traced back to the ancient Roman Empire. During the later Roman Empire the art form was known as “opus sectile”, and it involved large pieces of thinly cut stone (marble, mother of pearl, chalcedonies such as jasper, glass, etc.) which were joined together to make a picture or design, much like a picture-puzzle, most often to be inlaid into walls and floors. The materials were cut into thin pieces, polished, and then cut according to the design so that they fit one another without the use of grout. Unlike mosaic techniques, where the placement of very small uniformly-sized pieces forms a design, “opus sectile” pieces were much larger and could be shaped to define large parts of the design.

In the Middle Ages the technique became known as “cosmatesque”, and floors and small columns on tombs and altars continued to use inlays of different colors in geometric patterns. Byzantine art continued with inlaid floors, but also produced some small religious figures in hardstone inlays. In the Italian Renaissance the technique was often referred to as “painting in stone”. The center of the art form was late 16th century in Florence, Italy. “Pictures” were created using thin, cut-to-shape pieces of brightly colored, semiprecious stones. “Commesso” pictures (also known as “pietra dura”), which typically made use of various chalcedonies such as jasper, ranged from emblematic and floral subjects to landscapes, and were used mainly for tabletops and small wall panels, but also for jewelry, cameos, small boxes, etc.

During the Renaissance jasper was also widely used as an architectural in many of Europe's architectural "jewels." One such jewel is the Usimbardi Chapel inside the Church of Santa Trinita, built from 1602-07 in Florence, Italy. Renowned Florentine painter, architect, and poet Ludovico Cardi (1559-1613) decorated the pilaster strips of the chapel with agate, chalcedony, jasper and lapis lazuli inlays or "cladding". Another treasure is in Prague where the Chapel of St. Wenceslas, built in the 1400's completely inside the St. Vitus Cathedral, has walls of large paintings interspersed with stones of carnelian, amethyst, chalcedony, jasper and chrysoprase. St. Vitus Catherdral is considered to be the one of the most important monuments of Czech art, is dedicated to St. Vitus, an Italian martyr put to death by the Emperor Diocletian in 304 or 305 A.D.

Throughout the history of the ancient world, gemstones were believed capable of curing illness, possessed of valuable metaphysical properties, and able to provide protection. Found in Egypt dated 1500 B. C., the "Papyrus Ebers" offered one of most complete therapeutic manuscripts containing prescriptions using gemstones and minerals. Gemstones were not only valued for their medicinal and protective properties, but also for educational and spiritual enhancement. In the ancient world jasper was used as a cure for skin, intestinal, and stomach disorders (including ulcers), as well as gynecological complaints. Green jasper in particular was used to cure kidney, spleen and gall bladder ailments. The green and red jasper known as “bloodstone” was (predictably) believed to stop bleeding or hemorrhaging. Jasper was also used as a sleep aid, and believed to bring happiness into the wearer’s life. In many ancient cultures, jasper was carved into amulets protective or magical devices guarding the wearer against illness, disaster, demons or harm in the afterlife (as described in detail in the preceding paragraphs).

Modern practitioners believe that jasper has magical properties which can enhance the wearers spiritual connection to the earth, or in spells and charms for protection, stability, self-reliance, prosperity, inspiration and good fortune. Jasper is also believed to prevent nightmares and strengthen the mind against depression and negative thoughts. The stone is also used to increase self confidence and independence and ward off mental or psychic domination by others, helping the wearer break free from an oppressive situation or an abusive relationship. Jasper is also believed to soothe nerves, ease the wearer's mental state, and to induce relaxation. Many contemporary healers also recommend jasper as an aid to healing after an illness, and believe that amongst its benefits is the ability to help the body absorb vitamins and minerals while expelling toxins. Jasper is also believed by many healers to cure insanity, bring out evil spirits in persons possessed by demons, aid in overcoming jealousy, and bring about truth and monetary gain.


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