May 10, 2018

Afghanistan’s Lapis Lazuli and Da Vinci’s $450m Salvator Mundi painting

By Khaama Press - Wed Nov 22 2017, 1:59 pm

A famous painting of Leonardo da Vinci that was sold for $450 million during a New York auction, comprises of Lapis Lazuli materials from Afghanistan, it has been reported.

According to a report by the US-based The Huffington Post, predominant color in the mesmerizing Salvator Mundi — the celestial, vivid blue that clothes Jesus Christ himself — hails from the rich and forbidding caves of the Sar-e-Sang valley in Afghanistan’s mountainous Badakhshan province.

The report further adds that the source of this blue is the country’s lapis lazuli, a semiprecious gemstone that was once more expensive per ounce than gold.

Once ground and turned into a powder, or pigment, this azure stone, then mixed with liquefying substances, became known as ultramarine, which literally means “over the sea,” a romantic reference to its passage from Afghanistan to Venice, the report states.

The first known use of ultramarine as a pigment actually goes back to the sixth and seventh centuries, before Christ, on wall paintings in a cave temple in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, according to Hamid Naweed, a leading Afghan art historian and author of Art through the Ages in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is rich with vast reserves of natural resources and precious rare earth minerals but the deteriorating security situation and persistent war remains a major challenge on the way to explore and unearth the materials which could play a key role in economic development of the country.

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