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A Mysterious Smiling Blue Woman of Medieval-Era Europe

A Mysterious Smiling Blue Woman of Medieval-Era Europe

Lapis lazuli means Blue Stone. Lapis is a Latin word which means "stone", and lazuli originates from "lazulum" coming from a Persian word "lazhuward" which is the name of the stone in Persian.

To use this pigment, the impurities are removed from the luminous blue pieces of Lapis and grounded to a fine powder; the powder would then be allowed to blend with oil, gum arabic or another medium carrier to create paint. Higher-grade shades can be created by washing the powder with gentle acid to expel calcite and dolomite that weaken the blue colour. The material is then handled to evacuate grains of pyrite and other remote minerals. This lapis-inferred pigment is now popularly known as "ultramarine blue," a name that has been utilised for many years.

A blue beyond the seas, Ultramarine Blue, has an eminent shade and artists like the Masaccio, Perugino, Titian and Vermeer used them in their paintings. This pigment was so rare that usually it was reserved for painting the clothing of the prominent figures of their artwork, especially the Virgin Mary.

Because of its splendour and purity when skilfully separated, notwithstanding, ultramarine kept on being a fundamental blue shade in a craftsman's palette all through the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Its cost and the trouble of getting a good quality colour drove the French Government, in 1824, to issue a money-related honour for the discovery of a synthetic version of ultramarine shade. After four years, French scientific expert Jean-Baptiste Guimet made a manufactured ultramarine blue which was indistinguishable as compared to the best Lapiz Lazuri.

J. M. W. Turner was the certified craftsman to utilise manufactured ultramarine in 1834. From that point, ultramarine (otherwise called French ultramarine) has turned into a staple in any specialists' palette. Most strikingly French craftsman Yves Klein amidst the twentieth century concentrated quite a bit of his vocation on this single colour, venturing to such an extreme like building up his very own blend called IKB (International Klein Blue).

It won’t be wrong to say that the Lapis Lazuli pigment has been in use for the last 1,000 years. How legitimate is it? Read further about an exciting research on it.

Researchers reported that they had discovered particles of valuable ultramarine pigment in the dental plaque of a German nun who had died almost 1,000 years back in the graveyard of the Dalheim church in Lichtenau, Germany.

The researchers group had at first been exploring wellbeing and diets in the Middle Ages. They started by analysing the bones of bodies at a medieval religious community in Dalheim, Germany. The researchers investigated dental analytics - basically dental plaque that has turned out to be fossilised on the teeth during her lifetime.

The particles of the different lapis lazuli colour likely gathered as she licked the end of her brush with her tongue. As per radiocarbon dating data, the woman had lived in the range of 997-1162 AD and must have been between 45-60 old when she died. As per the researchers, she was quite an average woman, apart from what was stuck to her teeth. This is also a first proof that ladies, not just men, illuminated sacred texts in Medieval Europe, stated the scientists.

When the researchers analysed the tests of her dental health, they couldn’t believe their eyes. There were a hundred of small blue particles. The teeth are the only part of the body that stores all kinds of debris throughout our lives. It works like a time capsule of life, said a member of the research team.

“We discovered starch granules and dust yet what we likewise observed was this brilliant, splendid blue - and not only a couple of little bits of mineral but many blue particles. We had never observed that."

At first, it was difficult for the team to understand what particles were they. However, soon, the scientists found out that they were dealing with a rare and valuable pigment, Lapis Lazuli, which was found only in Afghanistan on a mountain.

Lapiz lazuli was used in Medieval Europe to adorn the important religious manuscripts.

The question was that how come this rare pigment end up in the teeth of a provincial German nun?

Monica Tromp, the co-first creator from Max Planck Institute in Jena, says “After seeing the amount of pigment in her mouth, we inferred that she must have been painting with the pigment and licking the brush at the end while painting,”

The researchers believe that artists and painters with exceptional expertise would have been entrusted with the utilisation of this exceedingly prized pigment. This research demonstrates that ladies were playing a vital role in the composition and representation of manuscripts.

While there were ladies' monasteries in this period, it had been trusted that under 1% of books could be credited to them before the twelfth century. Frequently ladies didn't sign their names on books; however, the writers likewise accept there was a strong male inclination at the time, and ladies were rendered imperceptible.

There was no formal proof of the Dalheim religious community until the thirteenth century, and this lady originated before that sanction. So, there is no certainty that she was a German nun: she may have been a part of the community of religious people, or specialists living in little houses around a church. In any case, we can recommend that whoever she was, she was an extraordinary Artist.

If you are a fan of this pigment, the Daniel Smith Extra Fine watercolour has a bit of this pigment in them. The Genuine Lapis Lazuli is at least 80% pure gem pigment suspended in a natural binder.

Know more such amazing stories about different pigments here.

Source credit:,46H0,FG0NK,DZ5K,1

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