History of Yemeni Agate

History of Yemeni Agate

Yemeni Agate soon entered Europe. In the writings of Aristotle (384-322 BC) it has been stated that the best agate and onyx were brought from Yemen. The Book of the Crowns of the Kings of Himyar (Himyarite Kingdom, one of the ancient kingdoms of Yemen), by Wahb ibn Manbah (655-728 AD), states that Shiddad ibn Umar, of the people of Aad, built his palace from onyx stones.

According to history books, when al-Muzaffar al-Salihi became the ruler of Yemen, he presented gifts to the Fatimid allies, including 70 swords with agate handles, 12 knives with onyx blades, five adorned agate garments, and a large number of precious stones. Abu al-Hassan al-Hamdani (893-945 AD) writes that:
“The art of decorating and using onyx for decoration and lining has reached its peak in its time and it has been used to make bottles, chests, sword handles and plates.”

Yemen has known the art of stone carving since the beginning of its history, and the Yemenis were known as “Masters of Carving”. Al-Hamdani also points out that the variety of agate, onyx in its colors and green jade with its distinctive beauty gained a great reputation during the golden age of Islam. The Iraqi historian Jawad Ali (1907-1977) in his book “Details in the History of Pre-Islamic Arabs” refers to the specialization of the Yemenis in extracting precious stones from the mountains:
Yemenis still practice the art of polishing gemstones extracted from the mountains around Sanaa using fine sand and water abrasives and then turning them into various shapes. They are used to make jewelry in different colors white, black, blue, yellow and red and some of them are a combination of colors.

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