Trivia, Trivium, Triviatis
Well…so much for my Latin. But you get the idea. Following are
little odds and ends about Jewelry.
Earrings, at one time, were worn as badges of slavery by both men
Roman citizens wore iron rings as a symbolic statement that they
were descendants of a lineage of three generations of free men. I
guess this was the beginning of the elitism one gained by wearing
General Pompey started the jewelry craze in Rome when he returned
from his victorious battles in Asia Minor. He brought back scads of
jewelry and gems and the wealthy citizenry went amok. Men and women
began wearing rings not only on almost all fingers, but also on
almost each joint of each finger. Except for one finger. The
middle finger. It’s true folks. They didn’t wear rings on their
middle fingers. Why oh why, you may well ask. Why shouldn’t you
ask? I asked myself the same thing. My conclusion…perhaps this
finger was left bare in order to better express emotions when at a
loss for words. I myself would not wear a ring on my middle finger
for this very same reason. We’ve all been privy to this unique and
silent poetry of expression at one time or another, have we not?
Biblically speaking–and I know I referenced this once before–but
biblically speaking–the Breast Plate of the High Priest, made at
the command of Moses, was made with twelve gems representing the
twelve tribes of Israel. Ultimately, the number twelve acquired
mystical weight. There were the twelve tribes of Israel. There were
the twelve apostles. There were the twelve foundation stones of the
Holy City. This was all translated into jewelry. People wanted to
own all twelve of the sacred stones of the Breast Plate. They would
wear one stone mounted in a piece of jewelry each month, changing
their jewelry as the months changed. Eventually, this changed, and
each person, in their quest for individuality, wore the stone of
his/ her birth all year round. 'Twas the beginning of the birth
stone craze that still delights the jewelers of the world today.
Now then, some of you may have been agonizing over the years as to
why Hindu girls wear pearls for their marriage ceremony. Agonize
no longer my friends. I am here to give you the light. It seems
that ancient Hindu legend has it that the god Krishna discovered
the pearl and took it from the ocean to adorn his daughter on her
wedding day. And so voila…another custom was born. As to how
pearls were first formed…It seems that the pearl was originally
a dewdrop which fell into the sea during a full moon, and the light
of that moon was what gave the pearl its beautiful luster.
The most extravagant use of pearls? Well…for what it’s worth,
General Pompey–yeah, him again–had his own portrait outlined
with pearls. Cleopatra…queen of the Nile…once made a wager with
Mark Antony, that she alone would consume a meal costing ten
million sesterces. (Twenty five thousand dollars back in them thar
times, folks) Antony knew she was lavish…but ten million
sesterces? Hah! The bet was on. Food came and went the night of the
banquet. But nothing to equal ten mil. Till some soup was served.
Very strong vinegary smell it had. As a bowl was set before the
Queen, she calmly removed one of the large pearl earrings she was
wearing, and dropped the pearl into the soup, where it promptly
dissolved. And she then drank the liquid. As she was about to plop
in pearl number two, worth at least five mil, one of the attending
generals stopped her, and proclaimed her the winner and Antony the
There’s more folks, but it’ll have to be for another time, lest it
all gets boring. So there it is.
And there ya have it.
That’s it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.
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