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Ch. 7: Religious Use of Gems

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ON THE RELIGIOUS USE OF VARIOUS STONES 305
and its rarity, than upon its mineralogical character ; indeed, among primitive peoples, stones of the same, or closely similar color, although of different composition, often bore the same name, and were conceived to have the same virtues whether talismanic or therapeutic. Writing of the rich gifts sent by Montezuma to Cortes upon the latter's arrival at San Juan de Ulua (1519), Bernal Diaz de Castillo mentions38 "four chalchiuites, a kind of green stone of great value, and much esteemed by them [the Indians], more highly, indeed, than we esteem the emerald. They are of a green color." And he proceeds to state that each one of these stones was said to be worth a great weight of gold.
The statue of the earth-goddess Couatlicue, found in the village of Cozcatlan, Mexico, and now preserved in the National Museum of Mexico, shows, inserted in the cheek, a disk of jadeite.39 Green seems thus to have been the color sacred to this goddess, which may remind us of the attribu­tion of the green emerald to Venus. Indeed, green as the color of foliage and plants must naturally have suggested itself as eminently appropriate for an earth-goddess, just as its significance as a symbol of life and generation con­nected it with the Goddess of Love-
The story of the emeralds brought from the New World by Hernan Cortes must have been quite familiar to six­teenth century writers, for we find Brantôme applying some details of this story to ' ' a beautiful and incomparable pearl" said to have been brought from Mexico by Cortes on his return to Spain. This he later allowed to slip from his fingers into the sea while showing it to a friend on board
* " Verdadera historia de los sucesos de la conquista de la Nueva EspaBa," Bib. de Aut. Esp., Toi. xrvi, Madrid, 1866, p. 35.
" Dr. Eduard Seier, " Similarity of Design of Some Teotihuacan Frescoes and Certain Mexican Pottery Objects," in Proceedings of the International Congre» of Americanists, XVIII Session, London, 1912; Pt. II, London, 191S, p. 200. 20
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