View Full Version : Turquoise, by any other name...

07-07-2004, 03:18
I've been searching for some time to fine the name used by the
ancient Egyptians for what we now call turquoise. Oddly, I can't
even find any Native American names for it originally either.


"Some say that in the the thirteenth century, turquoise was named in the mistaken belief that it came from Turkey. That may be true or it may be that the name comes from the Persian word for turquoise, firouze, since Persia has been a major source of this gemstone for thousands of years. In any case, the blue of this gemstone is so vivid and distinct that it has given its name to the color." (from GemJewel)

Has anyone ever come across an original name, pre-dating
the now seemingly universal turquoise?

07-07-2004, 05:31
Fulgour, Scott Cunningham, in "Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem, & Metal Magic," gives several names that Turquoise is known as:
Turkey Stone
Turkish Stone
Thyites (ancient Greek)
Venus Stone
Horseman's Talisman
Fayruz (Arabic, "Lucky Stone")- A variation of your "firouze" I suppose.

Sandra Kynes, in "Gemstone Feng Shui," says "This gemstone takes its name from the Middle Ages and an Old French word 'turqueise,' which meant 'Turkish'; stones arrived in Europe from the Middle East. It's more ancient name was 'callais', from the Greek words 'kallos lithos', 'beautiful stone.'
The use of this gemstone can be traced back to 5500 B.C.E. in Egypt where turquoise was found in the tomb of the queen. It was also used for amulets and ground into powder for cosmetics. Persia, where it was used for religious carvings, was the ancient source for fine turquoise."

Hope this helps some.

07-07-2004, 08:11
I did find something that attempted two torturous etymologies
for turquoise. The logic went along the lines of trade routes,
where the Venetians had a monopoly bringing it from Turkey,
or more at that time Anatolia, which went roughly:

Turkish Stone = Turqua Pierre = Turquoise

Dark Blue Stone = Tarquan Pierre = Turquoise

(I'm just guessing at the precise spellings)

07-07-2004, 08:30
from last January:
"What would one see if the rainbow of lights that comprise
the visible universe were mixed together into one colour?
Astronomers think something slightly greener than pale


now revised:
"Astronomers who announced in January that they'd determined
the colour of the universe will publish a paper on their broader
results in April. When they do, the footnote describing the colour
of the universe finding will cite beige, not the originally
announced turquoise."


...if you were Her what colour would you make Your universe?

30-07-2004, 20:26
I agree... surely the Egyptians didn't say "turquoise."
Isn't there someone who can find out the Navajo word?

30-07-2004, 23:14
Found more info about Turquoise, including the Navajo's name for it. :)


"The word turquoise probably is derived from the French pierre turquoise ("Turkish stone") and was first used by French and other European traders regarding Persian turquoise. In North America, every tribe has a different name for turquoise. For instance, chalchihuitl, the Navajo term for the stone, is based on an ancient Nahuatl term of Mexico modified by the Dine."

"Turquoise is probably the most valuable, non-transparent mineral in the jewelry trade. It was mined by Egyptians on the Sinai Peninsula as early as 6000 BC. and was transported to Europe through Turkey, accounting for its name, which means "Turkish" in French...American Indians of Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico have long fashioned turquoise into ornamental jewelry, inlays and carvings. The Navaho believe turquoise is a piece of the sky which has fallen to earth. The Apache think it combines the spirits of the sea and sky to helped warriors and hunters aim accurately. The Zuni beleve that turquoise protects them from demons, while the Aztecs reserved turquoise for the gods and was not to be worn by mere mortals. Montezuma's treasure, now displayed in the British Museum in London, includes a carved serpent covered by a mosaic of turquoise."

"The word Turquoise means "Turkish stone." It got this name from the trade route from Turkey that was used to bring this intense blue stone to Europe. Turquoise also comes from Tibet, China, Africa, Arizona and Iran. Other names for turquoise were "Skystone", "Stone of Sky" and "Fallen Skystone".
The Aztecs believed that Teuxivitl (the finest turquoise) was dedicated to the gods and nobody can own it nor wear it. The name of the Aztec Fire God Xiuhtecuhtli means "Vitzilopochtli means "Prince Of Turquoises". The Aztecs wore turquoise jewelry to reveal their rank."

P.S. An article about Turquoise you may be interested in: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=1&article_id=6251

31-07-2004, 05:28
Hello Bluemanticore

Many, many thanks for the information.


07-09-2004, 20:39
I think what you are looking for is

Lapis Lazuli

here is a website with a picture of it


I think in the artwork from ancient Egypt, the turquoise looking colour is this.

hope this helps.