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Lapis Lazuli

Lapis lazuli, or lapis for short, is a deep blue, semi-precious stone prized since antiquity for its intense color. As early as the 7th millennium BC, lapis lazuli was mined in the Sar-i Sang mines, in Shortugai, and in other mines in the Badakhshan province in northeast Afghanistan.

At the end of the Middle Ages, lapis lazuli began to be exported to Europe, where it was ground into powder and made into ultramarine, the finest and most expensive of all blue pigments. It was used by some of the most important artists of the Renaissance and Baroque, including Masaccio, Perugino, Titian and Vermeer, and was often reserved for the clothing of the central figures of their paintings, especially the Virgin Mary.

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