When you think of Afghanistan, you probably don't think of blue paint, but the country is home to lapis lazuli, a semi-precious stone used to make the color ultramarine. The intense blue pigment has been prized by artists from around the world since antiquity: Afghani lapis was used for the ultramarine hues of Chinese paintings, Indian murals, and European illuminated manuscripts as early as the 10th and 11th centuries. By the time of the European Renaissance, the pigment had become so rare -- and expensive -- that artists reserved their highest quality blues for the robes of the Virgin Mary and Christ child. Ultramarine's influence can be seen in modern and contemporary art as well, most notably in Yves Klein's eponymous shade of blue.
This model features a piece of lapis lazuli inlaid into both temples. Please note that there are natural variations in the stone, so each piece is unique.
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