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Mysteries of Turquoise

Updated: Sep 17, 2021

Just of late I have been drawn to the colour turquoise. It has started to take up a fair bit of my thinking time and so I thought I would lay it all down! The first time I noticed a curiosity with turquoise was when I was trying to photograph Herby Birdies in all colours of greens and blues. The turquoise shades would always come out a baby blue or grey, depending on the surrounding colours. This colour pollution happens with all colours to an extent where digital copying varies from each electronic device, distorting the true colour, but turquoise always needs digitally enhancing to be true

I'm big on nature and the outdoors so maybe the fact that turquoise is made of green, blue and a dash of yellow, (all the main colours of nature: green leaves, blue sky/water and yellow sun) is perhaps what draws me to it. As with most things I do, curiosity spilled over into my garden, when the mystery about the colour turquoise deepened!

As I started researching it came to my attention that there are no turquoise coloured flowers. I concluded that there must be a stopping point in the green colour spectrum to differentiate between flowers and leaves. Chlorophyll is the pigment in leaves that gives them their green colour, which is something flowers do not have. Whilst there are blue flowers of all shades they only make up 10% of flower colours. There are a few turquoise plants, but they are grasses or succulents, not flowers.

This photograph on the left shows some blue birds but they should have been turquoise. In order for the colours to be accurate I had to digitally warm up the image by adding a hint of. red. Could it be that turquoise is a colour that is both warm, (red, orange and yellow) and cool (green, blue and purple), making turquoise a warm shade of blue? The more I thought about it, the stranger the mystery became!

(The photograph below shows the true colour of the birds, once I had doctored the image!)

I wondered if the same could be said about the opposite side of the colour wheel in between orange and red, but at no point is there a colour that is so strange. Once you start looking into the colour turquoise it's history goes back thousands of years to virtually every ancient civilisation and culture.

For 9,000 years man has had a very passionate association with the stone Turquoise and has worn it as a talisman for luck, success, ambition and creativity. It seems that every ancient culture but notably not the Nordic cultures, have valued the power of Turquoise. The Zuni, Apache, Navajo, Hindu, Persian and Egyptian kings, shamans and warriors all adorned themselves with Turquoise, believing in it's power of wisdom, immortality and nobility. It is found underground in arid, semiarid or desert places, with large deposits in the American south west and the Egyptian Sinai.

There have been Turkish Turquoise beads found in Iraq said to be from 5,000 BC and documented evidence shows the Egyptians in 3,200 BC were mining for Turquoise in The Sinai. In virtually every culture a high-ranking official or ruler believed in the power of Turquoise:

  • Hathor, Egyptian Goddess of joy and fertility

  • Tara (Dolma), the Buddhist 'savioress' Goddess

  • Whope, Lakota Sioux Goddess of peace, harmony and meditation.

  • Yemoja,: African Goddess of Oceans

The more I researched it became apparent that there is an attraction to turquoise. It is the colour of the Vernal Equinox, which is when the sun passes the earth's Equatorial plane from south (Winter blue) to the north (Spring green) each March. The coming of Spring is always a deep-,seated, welcomed event as we pass from the harshness of Winter to the warmth and life-giving vitality of Spring. Again I wonder, is turquoise a warm shade of blue?

Man clearly has a deep rooted affection for the stone Turquoise, with Tibetans using it to cleanse the throat chakra and Native American Indians revering it as a stone to open your mind to the universe if worn. It seems to be very feminine, with so many Goddesses honouring Turquoise, though Tutankhamun's funeral mask was inlaid with Turquoise.

There certainly seems to be some amazing qualities to Turquoise, as it is said that a gifted piece from a friend will change colour to pale if the owner is unwell, to vibrant if they are well. To be held in such high esteem, throughout history, all around the world you have to ask, can that many people be wrong about the mysteries of turquoise, both the stone and colour?

NB: This is an ongoing investigation as I've not yet reached a conclusion as to why turquoise will not photograph true to it's hue and for it's rarity in the garden!

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1 Comment

Dec 09, 2021

You have a wonderful eye for colour mixing.

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