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Pearl legend

  Pearls of different shapes and luster like silk are very attractive to people’s aesthetic senses. Unlike other gemstones, pearls are formed by biological changes, which makes it so unique in the gemstone world. Its color and original ecology make it inherently noble and gorgeous. Pearls have been widely used in religious handicrafts, personal adornment, and royal clothing over the past few centuries. Pearls are often used in paintings, inlays, carvings, coins, reliefs, and textiles, along with gemstones, emeralds, amber, and other materials. From some of the handed down works, we can roughly outline a cultural history about pearls.
  Ancient Greece and Rome: The Age of Luxurious
  Alexander’s expedition in the 4th century BC, the ancient Greek world began to connect with some neighboring countries to the east, and the ancient Greeks gradually realized the value of pearls in other civilizations, but very few pearls were handed down from this era. . The most important of these is Paphos, which appeared in the 3rd century BC, in the Temple of Aphrodite in Cyprus, where a long blond needle with pearls is preserved.
  After the Roman Empire replaced ancient Greece as the hegemon of the Mediterranean world, the use of pearls became more common. One of the most famous scholars of this era, Pliny, devoted much of his splendid work, Natural History, to pearls. In his view, pearls hold “a first-class position…of all treasures they have the most exalted status”.
  By the 1st century AD, pearls had become the empire’s most sought-after gemstone. The ancient Roman historian Suvitonius has mentioned that a general named Vitnus sold his mother’s pair of pearl earrings to support his military operations. According to Pliny’s estimation, Cleopatra arranged all kinds of precious pearls in her banquet hall to entertain Mark Antony. The pearls are estimated to be worth around 10 million sesterces, equivalent to 80,000 Roman pounds of gold.
  Along the land and sea trade routes that exist today, ancient Rome traded pearls with India and the Persian Gulf region. During this period, some technical terms for pearls have arisen, such as “pearl” (margaritae), “pendant pearl” (elenchi) and “pearl” (unio), specifically referring to pearl-shaped and large spherical pearls respectively. This also reflects the importance of pearls in trade from the side.
  During the period of Caligula (the emperor of ancient Rome, reigned from 37 to 41), another luxury item appeared – pearl necklaces. Although women often used pearls to decorate shoes in the past, Caligula was actually in him. Favorite horses are also decorated with pearl necklaces. During this period, pearls were also used in religious sacrifices and worship of gods. People often used beautiful pearls to adorn the statues of gods. It is said that Cleopatra took off one of her earrings and placed the earrings on her own. Statue of the goddess Venus in the Pantheon. Unfortunately, although many statues survive to this day, most of the pearls on the statues are scattered or lost.
  The use of pearls in the imperial period is documented in portraits, inlays, engraved shells, coins, and sculptures. According to currently available sources, the use of pearls was already very common during this period: a Pompeii fresco depicts a woman wearing a pearl necklace and earrings; there is also an inlay around 500 AD showing some women wearing gemstone heads Dress up with pearl earrings; in an Egyptian mummy, we can also find women wearing pearl earrings.
  With the gradual establishment of the Christian faith in Europe, in the era of the ancient Roman Empire, pearls, as a symbol of social status, were gradually assimilated by Christ after the 1st century AD. Since then, pearls have symbolized wealth, as well as perfection and purity. Jesus Christ warned people: “Throw a pearl to a pig, and it will only trample under your feet…” Jesus Christ further described: “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant who is looking for the perfect pearl, and when he finds a pearl of great price, he goes to He sold all that he had and bought this bead.” In the Book of Revelation it is preached that the walls of the holy city are made of “precious stones of every kind” and that “the twelve gates are twelve pearls, Every gate is made of one pearl.” The connotations of these legends were handed down and magnified over the next few centuries.
  Byzantine Empire and Medieval Europe: The Age of Religious Faith
  With the fall of the ancient Roman Empire, the center of power of the empire moved eastward to Byzantium. Freshwater pearls in Europe are as rare as marine pearls, and the use of pearls is the prerogative of nobles, churches and monks. The use of pearls by the royal family at that time was quite extravagant, and the mosaics found in the Ravenna region of Italy can quite reflect the social conditions at that time. The Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian wore a hat made of precious stones with pearl earrings adorning his ears. His queen, Theodora, wore a turban of pearls, with two strands of pearls hanging down from either side of her cheeks, and several strands of pearls on her breast, and the pearls she wore dangled from the turban to her shoulders.
  The enjoyment of pearls in many Byzantine churches is no less luxurious than that of the royal family. Constantinople has a beautiful landscape – the Hagia Sophia, the pulpit is covered with all kinds of pearls – the reliquary, the icon, the communion cup, the communion bowl, etc. are all made of alabaster , onyx, agate, and then inlaid with pearls is the icing on the cake. The holy objects are decorated with pearls and precious stones, which symbolize the purity of Christ. Mass sacrificial clothing plays a very important role in the worship ceremony of the church. All kinds of precious pearls and gems were embroidered on the sacrificial clothes. Most of these pearls were collected from the Indian Ocean region, and a few freshwater pearls from the Middle East and Northern Europe were embroidered stitch by stitch by the best costume designers of the empire at that time. In addition, there are many nobles who hope that they can get eternal redemption, so they compete to donate the most precious pearls and gems they have to the church.
  By the late Middle Ages, seafood pearls had reached Europe from India and the Persian Gulf, via the Levant and Constantinople, to Venice and other European cities. Merchants buy pearls in these pearl-producing commercial centers, and then travel all over Europe to sell them at high prices. The word “pearl” and its variants (perle, perla, etc.) were absorbed into European languages ​​in the mid-13th century, until finally replacing the more ancient word “margaritae”.
  Counterfeit pearls also began to be used in small gemstones or to adorn clothing, but the law later cracked down on the practice. In Venice, such fraud was punished by amputation of a hand and ten years of exile.
  From the Renaissance to the 19th Century: The Magnificent Age
  The Renaissance was a far-reaching ideological emancipation movement. With the recovery of people’s taste in art, pearls have permanently become a symbol of wealth and status. Out of the adoration and admiration for pearls, its value continued to increase, and by the Renaissance, pearls had deservedly become the king of gems. In Russia, court designers specially made pearl-encrusted boots for female tsars, and nobles wore pearls on their shoulders to show their noble status and status. The pearls worn by the Russian archbishops are even more exquisite than those in Western Europe. From many handed down portraits, we can see that they are dressed in gorgeous costumes, and their clothes are inlaid with all kinds of precious gems and emeralds. , showing the atmosphere of luxury and opulence everywhere.
  In addition to the nobles and monks, in some areas where there is no legal prohibition, the middle class can also wear pearls. Such portraits and objects were rarely handed down until a building demolished in London in 1912, when people found many folk pearl ornaments on Chipsey Street. The owners of the treasures may have belonged to a jeweler or pawnbroker who buried them to escape the political upheaval of 1630. Compared to the royal pearls, these are smaller and come with little decoration. However, its creative inspiration is comparable.
  Pearl production in the major pearl producing areas of the Americas was nearly depleted due to over-mining, and the pearl market in Europe became depressed from the late 17th century to the 18th century. It is said that competition for pearls may even lead to international disputes, but there is no evidence to support this claim. In the 1620s, King Louis XIII and Queen of France invited George Veniers, Duke of Birmingham, to a court ball. This arrogant jazz actually took apart a string of pearl necklaces he was wearing, and threw the pearls everywhere, and threw them into the crowd, scattered all over the floor. The French generally feel that this is offensive and rude to the French by the British, and it can even be said to be a declaration of war! In order to make up for the lack of pearl production, artificial gemstones began to appear, and more and more people gradually shifted their interest to diamonds. However, freshwater pearls from the Nordic region are still very popular, and they are exactly what people need to adorn hair and clothing.
  During Napoleon’s reign, many pearls lost by the Bourbons were recovered and many new ones were purchased. The French royal family of this period collected the most precious pearl jewelry and handicrafts of the time, including a large number of tiaras, chest protectors, necklaces and earrings. Napoleon’s Empress Josephine possessed 35 black pearls, which were later passed to Napoleon III’s Empress Eugenie. Queen Eugenie, considered the most attractive and educated woman of the Second Empire, has a portrait of her with a necklace of crystal clear pearls around her neck and a pair of diamonds on her ears The earrings, standing sideways, look very sexy. According to legend, when the Second Empire fell in 1870, Empress Eugenie gave her pearl treasures to a dentist from Philadelphia, so that the gems would not be lost.
  Modern: The Civilian Era of Pearls
  After the 1930s, with the advent of cultured pearls, the price of pearls dropped sharply, and the use of pearls really entered the civilian era. Before that, pearls were basically only reserved for nobles.
  When Japanese cultured pearls entered the international market, they were initially not accepted because they were not “authentic”. However, under the efforts and advocacy of Japan’s pearl king Mikimoto Kokichi, such cultured pearls gradually became more and more popular. accepted by the people. After World War II, Japanese cultured pearls became more common around the world. The world’s major pearl sellers are also competing to promote cultured pearls, in 1966, Japan’s cultured pearl production reached its peak. In modern times, pearls are often used in weddings. At the wedding of the famous American actress Grace Kelly and the Prince of Morocco in 1953, Grace Kelly’s wedding dress, veil and shoes were covered with pearls. Thousands of American girls are full of dreams of marrying a prince. Wearing pearl jewelry for weddings has since become a trend.
  A history of pearl culture tells the vicissitudes of human history.

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