rock crystal

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A transparent form of quartz, it was highly prized by the ancient Egyptians who used it for the eyes of their statues. Its use for ornamental vessels and some figurative sculpture spread to the Near East and China and then to western Europe, where by the 12th century it was associated with fine objects such as the altars of the richest churches and displays on palace banqueting tables. It is very hard and can only be carved with difficulty, usually with a lapidary wheel. Colourless glass was made to imitate rock crystal and named crystal in emulation.

Subjects: Art.

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