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year 9 | Lapis Lazuli

Coming almost exclusively from northeast Afghanistan, this intense blue stone has been prized for centuries for its colorful properties. At the end of the Middle Ages, lapis was imported to Europe for artists to grind into a powder to create ultramarine, the most valued and expensive blue pigment. Many paintings of the Virgin Mary feature her wearing a blue robe that is painted with this lapis powder, as well as the oriental turban of "Girl with a Pearl Earring" by Vermeer.