How would this colorful rarity wear in 2013? Thanks to Shannon for suggesting Lazuli as our Baby Name of the Day.
Many gemstones come in multiple hues, but lapis lazuli is always an intense shade of blue. It’s been mined and incorporated into jewelry for millennia.
No, really for millennia. The Statue of Ebih-Il goes back to the twenty-fifth century BC. Ebih-Il was the superintendent of Mari, an ancient city-state. We know it as Syria today. You can see him at the Louvre, with his big ol’ orbs crafted from lapis lazuli. The stone was probably imported from a distance. Even after ages of neglect, Ebil-Il’s gaze is still vivid.
The art world has been faithful to lapis lazuli. It was the only way to produce a truly blue color for painting. Lapis lazuli was ground into a powder to create paints. Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring is one of the more famous works, but it’s not alone. From Buddhist temples in the sixth and seventh centuries to Anglo-Norman manuscripts in the 1100s to Giotto’s frescoes in the Arena Chapel from the fourteenth century, the most vibrant blue was produced with lapis lazuli.
The color is often referred to as ultramarine. Ancient days, references to sapphires may have actually been about lapis lazuli.
The merchant Marco Polo traveled to the east, recording his adventures, including a visit to a lapis lazuli mine in modern-day Afghanistan.
So back to the word itself: lapis is Latin for stone.
Lazuli is a tiny bit more complicated. Lajward or Lazhward appears to be a Persian word and place name, meaning heaven or sky. It’s also used for the color blue. Lajward became lazaward or lazuward. In French, the L was dropped. (It’s still lazur in Polish.) So was the ending. The name for the color became azur and then azure. Lazuli comes from lazuward, too.
Put it together, and lapis lazuli is literally blue stone, but poetically, stone of heaven or stone of the sky.
Here’s the lovely part: it isn’t a stretch to say that lazuli refers to things celestial. If you’re considering names like Ciel or even Nevaeh, Lazuli could make your short list.
It’s also an avian appellation, thanks to the blue-headed Lazuli Bunting. He’s a brightly colored little fellow, a songbird found throughout North America.
Does any of this make Lazuli a possible given name? Maybe. After all:
- From Blue Ivy to Indigo to Azure, color names are cool, and baby blue is big.
- Lazuli’s meaning could appeal to lovers of nature names as well as those seeking a spiritual connection.
- Her ties to the art world are another bonus.
- She’s different, but if Naomi and Lorelei are popular, is Lazuli really so out there?
The answer to the last question might just be yes. Lazuli has never been given to five or more girls in the US, which means that she’s among the rarest of the rare. A quick search turned up a handful of women who have worn the name, including one named Lapis Lazuli, and another called Azura Lazuli. You’re far more likely to meet a Sapphire.
But don’t count Lazuli out. If you’re after something truly distinctive, she’s one to consider.