Jasper is the opaque variety of Quartz, which occurs in nature in a diversity of colors, which could be from green, red and brown to yellow, grayish and even black. The color depends on impurity it contains; it can be iron, oxides or even organic matter. Jasper is a durable stone, and, therefore, is good for cutting and polishing, thus is suitable for jewelry purposes, though is frequently used as an ornamental stone.
Jasper derived its name from the Hebrew “yashpeh,” which is very similar in pronunciation. This version of the origin of its name is confirmed, according to the Scriptures, where it was described as the 12th stone in the breastplate of the High Priest. However, there are also Greek and Latin transcription of this word.
History and ancient usage of Jasper
Our ancestors were acquainted with Jasper, and esteemed it in a high degree. There is an opinion, that the Emerald of the Greeks and Romans was nothing but the green Jasper. It is obvious, due to the fact that, the ancients have used their so-called “Emerald” to create the pillars to their temples, moreover, these specimens of the “Emerald” have been cut in one piece. It follows that, the ancients couldn’t use an Emerald to create such immense buildings, due to its lack sufficient, however, they have obtained the Jasper in abundance and could use it for these purposes.
The ancients also used Jasper to create cameos and intaglios. Moreover, our predecessors have used the sophisticated ideas, to create the cameos, made of Jasper. For example, it could be a figure of a warrior, where his head was made of red jasper, and his body, in turn, was made of black yellow jasper with white stripes. Jasper was often used to engrave the portraits of famous military leaders and kings.
Jasper has been always in vogue in China. The seals, belonging to the Chinese emperor, were made of Jasper.
Mining & Color
The color of Jasper chiefly depends on its origin. Thus, brown Jasper obtained principally in Egypt; red Jasper chiefly come from Germany, where is obtained in Breisgau and near Marburg; yellow Jasper usually supplied from Italy (more precisely from Sicily), it is often used for mosaic work, it also occurs near the Bay of Smyrna in Greece; green Jasper for ornamental purposes is chiefly delivered from Russia (more precisely from the Ural Mountains) and China; blue Jasper obtained principally from Germany, where it is called “Prussian blue.”
Superstitions and supernatural virtues of Jasper
Jasper was highly prized in the Middle Ages as an amulet, which is capable to protect against sorrow; speckled jasper, it was believed, worn as a mascot, which could prevent to a death by drowning. Jasper was considered the strongest remedy against spiders and scorpions. A powder made of jasper, as it was considered, could serve to cure diseases of stomach, chest and lungs.