Alabaster

related topics
{church, century, christian}
{acid, form, water}
{@card@, make, design}
{island, water, area}
{language, word, form}
{food, make, wine}
{god, call, give}
{build, building, house}
{land, century, early}
{mi², represent, 1st}
{town, population, incorporate}

Alabaster is a name applied to varieties of two distinct minerals, when used as a material: gypsum (a hydrous sulfate of calcium) and calcite (a carbonate of calcium). The former is the alabaster of the present day; generally, the latter is the alabaster of the ancients. Both are easy to work, with an attractive appearance, and been used for making a variety of artworks and objects, especially small carvings.

The two kinds are distinguished from one another readily, because of differences in their relative hardness. The gypsum kind is so soft as to be readily scratched with a fingernail (Mohs hardness 1.5 to 2), while the calcite kind is too hard to be scratched in this way (Mohs hardness 3), although it does yield readily to a knife. Moreover, the calcite alabaster, being a carbonate, effervesces upon being touched with hydrochloric acid, whereas the gypsum alabaster, when thus treated, remains practically unaffected.

Due to the characteristic color of white alabaster, the term has entered the vernacular as a metonym for white things, particularly "alabaster skin", which means very light and quite transparent, and no doubt derives from the use of alabaster for tomb effigies.

Contents

Etymology

The origin of the word, alabaster, is in Middle English, through Old French alabastre, in turn derived from the Latin alabaster and that from Greek ἀλάβαστρος (alabastros) or ἀλάβαστος (alabastos). The latter was a term used to identify a vase made of alabaster.[1]

This name may derive further from the Ancient Egyptian word a-labaste, which refers to vessels of the Egyptian goddess Bast. She was represented as a lioness and frequently depicted as such in figures placed atop these alabaster vessels.[2][3] Other suggestions are derivation from the town of Alabastron in Egypt, as well as an Arabic etymological origin.[4]

Full article ▸

related documents
Meteora
Charles Rennie Mackintosh
Cimabue
Capua
Waltham Abbey (abbey)
Pope-elect Stephen
Pope Adrian I
Oriental Orthodoxy
Pope Honorius I
Pope John XXII
Exeter Cathedral
Pope Boniface IV
Vigevano
Roman villa
Nestorius
Beehive tomb
Salisbury Cathedral
Het Loo
Quirinal Hill
Synod of Dort
Athanasian Creed
Kozan, Adana
Mark the Evangelist
Romsey Abbey
Eastern Orthodox Church organization
Ancona
Pope Agatho
Pope Caius
Dunfermline Abbey
Fulda