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Malachite: The Gemstone, its Meaning, History and Uses

Malachite: The Gemstone, its Meaning, History and Uses

Physical Properties

Group: Carbonates
Crystal System: Monoclinic
Composition: CU2CO3(OH)2
Colour: Bright Green
Form / Habit: Massive, Botryoidal
Hardness: 3-1/3  - 4
Cleavage: Perfect
Fracture: Subconchoidal to uneven, brittle 
Lustre: Adamantine to silky
Streak: Pale green
Specific Gravity: 3.9 - 4.0
Transparency: Translucent

Spiritual Properties

Chakra: Heart, Solar plexus, Base, Sacral
Number: 9
Planet: Venus
Believed to be beneficial for: Transformation, psychosexual problems, inhibitions, rebirthing, shyness, detoxifying liver and gallbladder, stress, insomia, allergies, eyes, circulatory diseases, childbirth, cramps, menstrual problems, labor, female sexual organs, blood pressure, asthma, arthritis, epilepsy, fractures, swollen joints, growths, travel sickness, vertigo, tutors, optic nerve, pancreas, spleen, parathyroid, DNA, cellular structure, immune system, acidification of tissue, diabetes.

Introduction

Adorned with an allure of mystery, Malachite is a hypnotizing stone. Like a mesmerizing beauty, it puts you under its spell the moment you lay eyes on it. In the world of stones, Malachite is the outlandish eccentric, the stone you see once, but will remember, so significant is its appearance. Possibly the earliest ore off copper, having been mined in the Sinai and eastern deserts of ancient Egypt from as early as 3000BC, malachite is a green copper carbonate hydroxide. It was used as an eye paint, a pigment for wall painting, and in glazes and the colouring of glass.

Malachite Pigment

Shades of Malachite, Ueba Esou, Kyoto

Single crystals are uncommon; when found, they are short to long prismatic. Usually found as botryoidal or encrusting masses, often with a radiating fibres structure and banded in various shades of green, malachite is also found as delicate fibrous aggregates and as concentrically banded stalactites. Its name comes from the Greek for “mallow”, in reference to its leaf-green colour.

Malachite occurs in the altered zones of copper deposits, where it is usually accompanied by lesser amounts of azurite. The brilliant green of malachite is usually visible on the surface of copper deposits, and it is often the first indication a prospector has of this metal’s presence.

Abandoned Copper Mine in Russia

Abandoned Cooper Mine in Russia.

It is a minor ore of copper, but its principal use is as an ornamental material and gemstone. In ancient China, it was highly prized and called shill, taking its name from its source near Shilu, Guangdong Province. In the 19th century, huge deposits in the Ural Mountains of Russia supplied large amounts of malachite to Europe, with some single masses weighing up to 51 tonnes. It was worn in Italy as protection against the ‘evil eye’.

Dhratarastra, Guardian King of the East, a painting on hemp cloth

Malachite pigment is used to dramatic effect in this painting on hemp cloth of Dhratarastra, Guardian King of the East. Probably from Kyongsang Province, Korea, the painting is from the Chosen Dynasty and dates from the 18th century.

Malachite Habits

Malachite comes in a variety of habits, all of which provide beautiful and interesting patterns when cut and polished.

Malachite Habits

From left to right: Radiating crystals from stalactites, growth layering pattern from stalactititic cross section, radiating crystals from fibrous specimen, Malachite crystal with Azurite encrustation.

Healing properties

Reputed to protect against the Evil Eye, witchcraft, and evil spirits, this stone is a powerful cleanser for the emotional body, releasing past-life or childhood trauma, but is best used by a qualified healer. Life is lived more intensely under the influence of Malachite, a powerful energy conduit. It mercilessly shows what is blocking your spiritual growth, drawing out deep feelings and psychosomatic causes, breaking unwanted ties and outworn patterns, and teaching how to take responsibility for your actions, thoughts, and feelings.

Malachite Egg and Pillow

Left: the light and dark layers of Malachite create a striking pattern in this polished egg, which has been cut to reveal the concentric banding. Right: The polished piece of malachite is cut across the botryoidal structure, to show an intricate pattern of swirls and bands.

An important protection stone, Malachite absorbs negative energies and pollutants from the environment and the body, soaking up plutonium and radiation and clearing electromagnetic smog. Malachite has a strong affinity with devic forces and heals the earth. Malachite can be used for scrying or to access other words, inner and outer Journeying through Malachite’s convoluted patterns assists in receiving insights from the subconscious or messages from the future.

History

Malachite Egypt Paint

Malachite Egypt Painting.

Long before it became admired in Europe, Malachite played a key role in ancient Egyptian rituals. The hieroglyph used to represent Malachite (wadj- meaning green) symbolized vegetation, new life and fertility. Egyptians recognized the cycle of vegetation, meaning that death and resurrection were part of the circle of life, as humans would enter a paradise upon death, often described as the “field of malachite”.

Aztec Knife Malachite

The handle of this Aztec knife from the 15th century is covered with a mosaic of Malachite, turquoise and shell. The blade is made of chalcedony.

More than its symbolism, Malachite was prized for its healing value (eye diseases) and often used for eye make-up (Cleopatra – Queen of the shades). Beyond the Orient, historians have found artefacts showing that Malachite was highly priced as well amongst early Aztec cultures and in ancient China.

Chinese Vase Malachite

This Chinese ritual food vessel, dating from the Sung Dynasty (10th to 12th centuries AD) is decorated with inlaid malachite and silver.

After the downfall of the Egyptian empire, Malachite was used as a mineral pigment to create green paint (similar to ultramarine from Lapis) until the 19th century, when it came a favorite for decorative purpose given its iridescent shades of green and soft moldable complexion.

Like a renaissance, Malachite found its greatest admirers in the sophisticated courts of imperial Russia in the early 1900s. Russian tsars and princesses have dedicated national tales and entire halls of their palaces to this gemstone.

One of the grandest of all imperial palaces, the Winter Palace in St Petersburg features a stately salon decorated with Malachite, which was commissioned by Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna in 1830. It was in this room where the brides of Russia’s imperial family, the Romanovs, were traditionally dressed by the Tsarina before their weddings. Centerpieces of the Malachite room are the grand fireplace and an alley of columns along its sides, entirely made from the most stunning Malachite. More breathtaking architecture featuring Malachite can be found in the St Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg.

Malachite Room Konstantin A. Uktomsky

In this 1865 watercolour painting of the Malachite Room by Konstantin A. Ukhtomsky, the green malachite column and surfaces are highlighted by the white walls. During the Russian Revolution, between June and October 1917, the Provisional Government met in this room.

St. Isaac Catherdral Malachite

Interior of St. Isaac's Catherdral. Eight giant green columns made of Russian malachite and two of Lapis Lazuli grace the iconostasis of this gold-domed, Russian Orthodox cathedral. They stand out dramatically against the white marble and gold leaf that cover the wall.

Beyond its mythological and physical significance, one of Russia’s most popular folk tales, “The Malachite casket”, is dedicated to the beauty and mysteries associated with the stone. Written in 1938, the story is about a girl named Tanyushka, who receives a malachite casket filled with jewelry, given to her by her deceased father. Throughout the story it becomes clear that the casket was given to Tanyushka’s father by the Mistress of the Copper Mountain, who may have been Tanyushka real mother. Being a changeling, a child of the mountain spirit and a mortal, Tanyushka is described as a mysterious and inhumanly beautiful. The tale remains immensely popular and has been adapted in a multitude of movies.

Malachite Jewellery Box

Malachite remains a favourite carving stone today. This malachite jewel box was crafted in 1989 by E.Zhiriakova and is entitled Mistress of Copper Mountain. 

One does not need to know all the legends surrounding Malachite to be taken in by its beauty. One glimpse of its deep, hypnotizing shades of green; its strong, characterful graining awakens the desire felt for this stone throughout centuries.

MYKU is proud to bring back this eccentric aesthete of gemstones in our second, highly limited series of Malachite. Discover the collection here> .

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