Back in the late 70’s, a sensational tour drew huge crowds across the US. At its New Orleans stop alone, over 870,000 attended the “show”. No, it wasn’t the Stones, although I’m sure they were touring at the same time. This tour was more unique and rare than that. I was fortunate enough to experience it first-hand. Looking back, being young, I didn’t understand what a rare opportunity it was for me, but I was still fascinated.
The 3000 year old artifacts of King Tut are making their final appearance around the world this year. If you were not lucky enough to catch it this time around, you’ll have to travel to Egypt experience it. Many of the pieces have become too fragile to be packed and shipped again. The thing that made the biggest impression on me is one of the things missing from this final tour, the famous burial mask. Encrusted with lapis, carnelian, amazonite and other beautiful stones, I remember looking at the detail and beauty of the craftsmanship with amazement.
Lapis lazuli with is mesmerizing deep sapphire shade of blue is known as the “Stone of Wisdom” and has long been thought to boost enlightenment. Once reserved for only the most powerful leaders, Cleopatra crushed it into power to create a stunning eye shadow. During the renaissance, painters like Michelangelo, used the powder to create a deep blue pigment that is still just as vibrant in their paintings today.
Although a deep blue color, the stone that literally gets its name from the name Latin word for stone, “lapis” and the Persian word for blue, “lazhuward” is made up of several different minerals, mainly lazurite, sodalite, pyrite, calcite and sulfur deposits. The deeper blue the color, the higher grade the stone is. “Denim Lapis”, gets its name because it resembles faded denim with the white specks (more white than gold flecks) and lighter shades of blue and is a lower grade quality of lapis.
The sodalite content is thought to induce peace while the pyrite brings energy. Combined with the other elements in the stone it has long been used to promote self-awareness and empowerment, the ability to look inward, be at peace with what you find but motivate to move forward. It is also thought to improve heart rhythm, lower blood pressure, help with thyroid issues and sleep disorders.
The “tour” in the 70’s created such a sensation that it inspired the famous SNL skit by Steve Martin.