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Ch. 9: Gem Engraving

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PRECIOUS STONES.
some idea of its general character, more especially in the subjects chosen for representation. Assyrian art is typified by
the cylinder, the Persian by the cone. One of the cylinders,
made of black hematite, is engraved with the figure of the god
Belus, having the winged disc above his head, the symbol of
the divine presence, and holding in his hand the crux ansata,
the emblem of life — the real origin, it is thought, of the
English royal orb and cross. Several human figures, animals,
and emblems, are introduced, making the whole scene a complex " mixture of Assyrian and Egyptian ideas." The bust of
a Sassanian king, on garnet, is represented with the usual
pearl of immense size in his ear, understood, from an inscription in Pehleve characters, to be Sapor II. ; the bust of a
queen, with a strikingly marked type of national character,
engraved on lapis-lazuli of very superior quality, is thought to
be that of an Indo-Scythian. The Egyptian ideas are represented by Horus, one of the sun-gods, seated on a lotus, the
emblem of fertility, with a star and triangle, executed upon
green jasper; while the Gnostic doctrines are represented by the
Abraxas god, corresponding to Serapis, in various forms. One
of the Greek gems — a sard of different shades — bears the
head of Saturn, — a rare subject for engraving ; and a fine work
on red jasper exhibits the figure of Faustina the Elder, as
Cybele, one of the earliest known on that material ; Jupiter,
Juno, Apollo, Minerva, Serapis, and other deities, of Greek,
Roman, and Egyptian mythology, are all represented, with different degrees of skill, on a large variety of precious stones.
Kinds of Precious Stories used for Engraving. — Sards of
different shades constitute more than half the number of
engraved gems ; the remainder comprise several species, including the following : —
Rtiby. — Some connoisseurs deny the existence of any real
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