An Annotated & Illustrated Collection of Worldwide Links
to Mythologies, Fairy Tales & Folklore,
Sacred Arts & Sacred Traditions
by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.

Common Themes, East & West:

The Four Elements




Quilt from the Ukraine
By Vera Kalinowska

9 May 2004
Author's Note:

.......I started this page 7 weeks ago on Spring Equinox with Vera Kalinowska's mysterious "Stonebirds" image and a handful of ungrokked links.  It came about because I had asked this Ukrainian artist for the story behind her marvelous "Stonebirds" quilt, which I was already using in my opening 2004 Spring Equinox essay.

From my e-mail of 14 March:

Is there a story about how you chose the title of "Stonebirds"?  I would love to know it!
She responded 15 March:
There is nothing special, this artwork inspired by prolonged looking into the piece of malachite. Also some background from russian folk tales around of this magical mineral.
From my e-mail of 18 March:
O!!!!  No wonder I love your image so much!!!  The "Stone Flower" has
been my favorite fairy tale since childhood when I saw the film -- 1948,
I think.  So now I understand -- you stared & stared into the same stone
that Danila carved the flower from.  Only for you, birds flew through
the stone.  Is this correct?  I have an English translation of P.
Bazhov's "Malachite Casket" but haven't had time to read all the stories
yet.  Are those the Russian folktales you mean or are there others?
There has been no response as yet -- she may not have been able to find an English translator or, since I included an enlarged jpg of the image, it may have contained too many bytes and was never delivered.

Regardless, a shock of delight went through me when I read that malachite had been Vera's inspiration.  I felt wildly excited.  I had fallen in love with Vera's quilt in its own right, but to learn that it had emerged from an artistic "trance" catalyzed by staring into malachite, whose Malachite Goddess had catalyzed Danila's Stone Flower in a similar manner, was a stunning crossover between art and lore.  Sooooo, I naturally started this page so that I could share my delight with others <smile>.

Once I started the page, I had to decide where to put in on my Myth*ing Links site -- under Russian Folklore?  Well, no, because other peoples also have lore connected to malachite.  What about my general Western European page on Folklore and Fairytales? -- but that would rule out Eastern Europe, Native American and Asian material.  I considered my Common Themes: Artists & Muses page, but that connection was too much of a stretch.  I really just wanted to do this one page on malachite, tuck it in somewhere, and move on.  But where should I put it?

Eventually, I reluctantly came to the conclusion that in order to accommodate malachite apropriately, I would need to begin a new series on "Minerals" in my Common Themes: Four Elements: Earth section.  So, I began that same day with a portal page that would be online as a "container" before I launched Malachite's page.  I also roughed out a few more pages for the series -- gold, diamonds, copper were the first of these.  As it happens, Diamonds, my least favorite gem, was finished first and launched a few weeks ago.  The overall Minerals page was finally launched as a work-in-progress yesterday.  And in a few days, this page will join them -- I hope you will enjoy the results.....


Raw Malachite from the photo collection of Mario Arcouette
Note: all the little knobby protuberances are what create the fascinating circles in a polished piece.

From Carnegie Mellon comes a marvelous essay, "A Short History of Metals," by Alan W. Cramb.  Here is what he says about malachite:
Malachite, a blue friable stone, was the source of copper in the early smelters. Originally it was thought that the smelting of copper was by chance dropping of malachite into campfires. However, campfire temperatures are normally in the region of 600-650 C, whereas, 700-800 C is necessary for reduction. It is more probable that early copper smelting was discovered by ancient potters whose clay firing furnaces could reach temperatures of 1100-1200 C. If Malachite was added to these furnaces copper nodules would easily be found. Although the first smelted copper was found in the Nile valley, it is thought that this copper was brought to Egypt by the Gerzeans and copper smelting was produced first in Western Asia between 4000 and 4300 BC.

Although copper can be found free in nature the most important sources are the minerals cuprite, malachite, azurite, chalcopyrite and bornite. Copper is reddish coloured, malleable, ductile and a good conductor of heat and electricity.  Approximately 90% 0f the worlds primary copper originates in sulfide ores....

More on this link will be found on my opening Minerals page.

Malachite Amulets from "Dave's Down to Earth Rockshop"
(see link directly below)

This is a terrific page from "Dave's Down to Earth Rockshop" in Illinois -- I love the many photos and the data is both concise and intriguing.  Excerpts from the technical section:
...Crystals are rare, mostly dense, fibrous fine-crystalline aggregates. Malachite sometimes occurs in rounded (mamillated) nodules, botryoidal shapes, grape shapes, cone shapes, or stalactite and, rarely, encrusted slabs.

Malachite forms relatively quickly. Bronze objects have been found at ancient Assyrian sites partially or wholly converted into malachite. Grains of sand bound together by malachite particles are a further indicator that it forms quickly....

...In fractures or when cut, malachite shows a banding of light and dark green with concentric rings, straight stripes, or oilier figurative shapes caused by its shell-like formation. The stratifications are curved (transverse to the length of the crystal), which are obviously successive layers of concretion, according to the outer surface of the mass....

...Concentric eye-like rings are called malachite peacock's eye and are the most popular. Large mono-colored pieces are rare.  In thin plates it is translucent otherwise it is opaque.

Today Shaba (Katanga) in Zaire is the most important malachite producer. Other deposits are in Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Australia (Queensland, New South Wales), Chile, France and Arizona and New Mexico in the USA. It is found almost everywhere in the form of small encrustations, together with azurite.

The name is probably derived from the green color (Greek-malache = mallow), or perhaps from its low hardness (Greek-malakos = soft)....

I am going to double-list this site below in my "Mythology & Lore" section because the lore data is equally as clear and accessible as its technical data.  Just scroll down to that section for more excerpts.......

Malachite Bear -- a work of Zuni sacred art (usually called a "fetish")
Artist: Jimmy Yawakia, who is among a handful of Zuni artists who specializes in carving malachite
Courtesy of Gil Toperoff at Sunface Jewelry
This attractive site comes from Zuni Spirits, a Texas firm featuring art from Zuni Pueblo.  The link is to a page on malachite, azurite, and chrysocolla, which are often found together.   On malachite, here are a few excerpts about the technical hazards of working with it, as well as its metaphysical significance:
...This well known stone has been used with some irregularity by many different Zuni carvers, due to the health problems associated with inhaling the copper dust produced in the cutting and grinding process. Keeping the stone wet while working it, either with an automatic continuous water drip or by hand dipping in water, prevents dangerous dust inhalation problems for the carver....

Metaphysically, Malachite is seen as the supreme helper in the cure for many diseases and ailments, aiding in the revitalization of the entire being and the regeneration of diseased tissue. It is a strongly physical stone in contrast to Azurite which is seen as a helper in the spiritual realm. A good protective companion for the traveler or person who is often in dangerous physical situations, Malachite’s powerful energy can also act as a mirror of the soul and reflect the true character of the person wearing it....
Continuing with a metaphysical focus, this is "Demystifying the myth about dangerous gemstones" by Dutch author, Athena Sydney.  About malachite, she writes:
...Malachite is a stone that can be dangerous, it contains high levels of copper sulphate, and it is known that copper sulphate is toxic. However you should not despair, this stone can be worn without any problems, it is a stone that can cure ailments of the joints like rheumatism and arthritis, and also against oedema caused by an excessive amount of uric acids. I have successfully used this stone (and Amethyst) to treat a sprain and have succeeded in doing so within a few days - so I would not advice [sic] against using this stone. But going back to the original theme, the toxicity of Malachite - tumbled Malachite MAY be used to produce an elixir or gemstone water, the rough specimens should NOT! Personally I wouldn't use Malachite water for too long a period. In the past green paints were produced from pulverised Malachite and as soon as these paints became damps, toxic fumes were emitted, and many people died from inhaling these fumes, even Napoleon Bonaparte was a victim of this stone for he loved the colour green....

Detail from the Italian site just below -- here is a direct link to the fullsized version:
This Italian site has thumbnails of many minerals, including three of raw malachite -- just click on them for large, detailed versions (a detail of one of these is shown directly above).


Malachite Goddess with Danila
By Rogatov
Courtesy of Tradestone International

Myth*ing Links "Stone Flower": [Link updated 10 October 2007 since Sunbirds' 
is now defunct.]
From Russian Sunbirds comes a series of tales based on The Malachite Casket: Tales from the Urals by Pavel Bazhov (1879-1950).This one is "Hostess of the Copper Mountain."  The page is actually my own re-telling of "The Stone Flower."  I wrote it in 1998 under a pseudonym and am pleased that it is still online with all of the illustrations I chose for it (some from my personal collection).  There are several more tales, listed under Malachite Casket Tales, at this Index link:

Detail of Malachite Goddess
By Smirnova
Courtesy of Tradestone International

From a Russian tourguide site about St. Petersburg comes another re-telling of "The Stone Flower."  This one is based less on the film, as mine was, and more on Bazhov.  It opens with good data on Bazhov's work:
This tale is the most famous one from the book "The Malachite Casket", written by P. Bazhov, who based his stories on miners' tales from the Ural Mountains. The Urals, on the border between Europe and Asia, is the oldest mountain chain in the former Soviet Union and are famous as a source of precious stones and metals, including gold and copper ores such as malachite. The most famous character from these stories is the Mistress of Copper Mountain, a protector of gems and stones in the Urals....

Ancient Egyptian Malachite-inlaid Eyes
From Leiden University comes an extensive listing of recent books on ancient Egyptian religion.  One of them, published in Russia, looks at the "Eye of Horus" and malachite.  I'm citing the entire passage because it is so rich and evocative:
SHERKOVA, T.A., "Oxo Xora": simvolika glaza v dodinastiheskom Egipte, VDI 4, 1996, 96-115. (ill.). The Eye of Horus; the symbolism of the eye in pre-Dynastic Egypt.

The material culture of Predynastic Egypt testifies to the fact that the Egyptians perceived the Sun as the heavenly eye, which was reflected in the ritualistic lining of the eyes with "malachite green." The mythological image of the heavenly eye was linked to the goddess who in the Early Dynastic period was viewed as a bird, a heavenly cow or a woman and who was depicted in all these forms on palettes for mixing the paint with which the eyelids were lined. Large ceremonial palettes genetically connected with these objects are the most important sources for studying the changed image of the heavenly eye in the Predynastic and Early Dynastic periods. Reliefs on these ceremonial prestigious things belonging to social leaders attest to the existence of the myth about the eye of Horus the ritualized form of which is reflected through hunting and battle scenes symbolizing a sacrificial offering. The image of the eye of Horus took shape on the basis of notions about the ancient sun goddess, ritual of the slaughter of the sacrificial bull, dismemberment of the bodies of the dead and other beliefs and rituals characteristic of the primeval societies at various stages of their development. This is the reason for the existence of archaisms and many versions of texts about the eye of Horus. The complicated nature of this image is reflected in the multifariousness of its embodiments which existed in the Predynastic period. Representations of the Eye of Horus symbolizing a sacrificial offering and posthumous resurrection are not known prior to the IIIrd Dynasty. At the same time this image preserved the notion about the ancient solar goddess, who, though she became part of god Horus, the eye on his forehead, nevertheless was his essence - the complete and whole eye of Horus, condition for his existence. The mythological reconstruction of the whole eye of Horus was reproduced in the ritualistic lining of the eyes with "malachite green" symbolizing the renovation of life. The myth of the eye of Horus came into being at the time of developed leadership and reflected the ideology thereof as well as the ideology of the king’s power of the early state.
This is a retelling of a famous ancient Egyptian legend about a bored pharaoh.  His royal magician orders a pleasant diversion in which malachite jewelry plays a role (FYI: malachite, turquoise, and copper were all mined by the ancient Egyptians in the Sinai):
...Then said Zazamankh to the officers and attendants of Pharaoh Seneferu, 'Bring me twenty oars of ebony inlaid with gold, with blades of light wood inlaid with electrum.  And choose for rowers the twenty fairest maidens in Pharaoh's household: twenty virgins slim and lovely, fair in their limbs, beautiful, and with flowing hair. And bring me twenty nets of golden thread, and give these nets to the fair maidens to be garments for them.  And let them wear ornaments of gold and electrum and malachite.'...
All goes well until one of the young women loses her malachite ornament and refuses to row until it is found.  Read the story to find out what happens next <smile>.
This is an excerpt covering "A" from The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales by Jack Zipes (Oxford University Press, 2000).  The whole page is quite interesting (e.g., see the great entry on "Advertising") but here is the relevant entry on malachite:
Ada, Alma Flor (1938- ), Cuban-American writer and professor, who has been a pioneer in the development of multicultural and bilingual books for children and has written the important study A Magical Encounter: Spanish-Language Children's Literature in the Classroom (1990). Ada writes her own texts in Spanish and English as well as translating and adapting folk tales that emphasize the themes of cooperation, trust, and liberty.  Among her important books in Spanish and English are ... The Malachite Palace (1998), one of Ada's original fairy tales, recounts the adventures of a sequestered princess who is not allowed to play with the common people until she is liberated by a tiny bird.
This is the start of a December 2002 thread from the University of Chicago's Ancient Near East list in which members discuss "malachite" in terms of botany and linguistics.  The thread is entitled "Meluha, Malachite and the Amalekites."  It is fairly specialized but quite intriguing if you enjoy such discussions.  At the bottom of each message is a link to the next.

Malachite Corn Maidens
Zuni sacred art (usually called "fetishes")
Artist: Todd Westika
Courtesy of Diane at Zuni Art

[Added 24 September 2004]:  Because malachite symbolizes fertility, creativity, healing, and even the power of the sun (as in Egypt -- see above, where the eyes of Horus were lined with malachite), it is perfectly suited to be carved into pueblo Corn Maidens who, themselves, personify all of these life-giving qualities for their people.  This is a general page on "Corn Maidens" from Zuni Art:
Corn is to Pueblo people what the buffalo has always been to the Plains Indians, the very symbol of LIFE. In Zuni mythology, the Corn Maidens brought this gift, and many of the carvings of women, especially those with a criss-cross pattern on the body, are carved to pay homage to the Corn Maidens....
A link will take you to many of these Corn Maidens, including the above malachite pair.
Again, this is "Dave's Down to Earth Rockshop" -- I excerpted technical portions in my above section on "Science & History" -- and now I'll excerpt some of what the site offers on malachite lore:
...Malachite was popular with the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans for jewelry and amulets. It was also ground along with galena on slate palates. This powder mixed with water was painted on the eyelids. Malachite was being mined in the Sinai Peninsula in 4,000 BC.

...Russian tsars obtained the malachite for decorating their palaces; paneling the walls and for beautiful inlaid works of art.

Italians wear malachite to protect them from the evil eye....

...Malachite has been used to ward off danger and fight illness. It has been said to protect against falls, help with tissue regeneration and healing bruised and fractured bones. Try wrapping it in place. Malachite draws the energy of disharmony into and through its own energy vibration. It takes the pain into itself.

Holding a "Peacock's eye" in malachite over a physical area can alter the patterning and isolate and draw out pain. Light and dark green colors representing the earth give strength to face and conquer the pain. If it has been used a lot, place malachite on a clear quartz cluster to recharge it.

It has been said to be particularly beneficial to the eyesight. It was thought that by looking at malachite for a few minutes every day it would increase the oxygen flow to the retina and stimulate the optic nerve. The paste form smeared on the eyelids was thought to cure cataracts.

It has been used in elixir form to treat the teeth.

The [Egyptian] hippo goddess Toeris wears a necklace of many beads including malachite. Malachite was admired by ancient followers of the Goddess Venus and thought to possess great powers.

In Rome it was called "Peacock stone," dedicated to the Goddess Juno, who protects against lightning and other perils of nature....

...Malachite is said to produce purification and healing dreams and draw out the negative energy from nightmares. It also is said to unlock dream memory and understanding thus clarifying the information and making it available for solving everyday problems....

There is much more on this site -- and lovely photos as well.  As a general survey site on malachite, this is the best.
After a lovely opening image, this site offers a handy chart divided into Mineralogy, Metaphysical, and Legends & Folklore.  Under Metaphysics/Astrology:
Associated with Capricorn and Scorpio. It is the gemstone of the June moon (Mead Moon) and it is the stone of the planet Uranus. It assists in inventive thought processes and new ideas.
FYI: the menu to the left lists a great many other minerals as well.

Raw Malachite
From Herne's site -- see directly below.

From the late Herne's always interesting Celtic/Wicca site (which family and friends are keeping online) comes data on minerals whose names begin with "K" through "O."  The material has been gathered from many sources, including Scott Cunningham's books.   Here are two excerpts from the section on malachite:
OCCURRENCE: The copper mines at Bisbee, Chochise Co., Arizona, are famous for their fine specimens of massive malachite and pseudomorphs of malachite after azurite.  Mines at Morenci in Greenlee Co., and at Globe in Gila Co., Arizona, have yielded beautiful malachite specimens, of which some consist of alternating layers of green malachite and blue azurite. Fine malachite has also come from copper mines in California, Nevada, Utah, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee....

...LEGEND and LORE: It is said that if malachite is worn, it will break into pieces to warn the wearer of danger....

FYI:  links at the bottom of the page will take you to non-K-O alphabetical listings of minerals.

 Malachite jewelry by "Arlee"
From the Ukraine
(see directly below)

If you, like me, love jewelry settings that look magical and ancient, you might like to take a look at this website from the Ukraine.  The founding artist ("Arlee") and his artist-friends have various physical disabilities but are nevertheless superb artists working in nearly-vanished traditional ways, rich with symbolism -- I loved learning, for example, that tiny beads of silver on many of his pieces represent morning dew.  There are two pages of photos and descriptions -- very, very slow-loading since the graphics are large and Russian servers a bit slow -- but they're well worth the wait.  I found only one piece using malachite (item #9 near the end of the 2nd page -- or see directly above on my page), but I'm sure interested buyers could ask for custom orders using malachite (his e-mail is on the pages).  Here is part of the artist's opening statement:
In some parts of the world like the Ukraine and Russia where Modernization and ease of life are not the everyday life is where one can find the most beautiful and rarest of hand made Jewelry Designs. These techniques are secretly guarded and referred to as "Ancient Russian Jewelry Design".  When one owns a coveted piece of Jewelry such as that designed by Master Designer Arlee it is a treasure that grows more valuable with each century....
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Partial Menu of Common Themes, East & West:


Bronze [forthcoming]
Iron [forthcoming]
Silver [forthcoming]
Tin [forthcoming]
[Note: check Home Page for the rest of COMMON THEMES because they change frequently]

Down to Geographical Regions: Africa

Note: a complete Site Map as well as my email address
will be found on my home page.

This page created with Netscape Gold 4.7
Text and Design:
Copyright © 2004 by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
All rights reserved except where noted.

Page designed & begun 20 March 2004, Spring Equinox.
9 May 2004: wrote introductory essay, gathered some more new links, and started grokking.
14 May 2004, 8pm -- after days of grokking, I launched the page.
3 June 2004: Sunface additions to Zuni bear carving.
24 September 2004: removed old & then added new Corn Maidens at request of gallery; added related link.
Credits: The Four Elements bar comes from Torrey Philemon.
The "peacock's-eye" malachite piece in the opening essay comes from the University of Texas.