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All About Alabaster

Alabaster - Prized Since Antiquity

Alabaster has been used in artistic and decorative applications for thousands of years, due to its fine grain and coloration and the fact that it can be carved fairly easily. Alabaster is translucent and can be polished to a high gloss, making it perfect for architectural features, decorative boxes, vases, bottle, statues, and game pieces. Thin sheets of alabaster have even been used as windowpanes in small church windows, especially in Italy.

The Egyptians made extensive use of alabaster in funerary objects. Important quarries were located in Egypt near a town (Alabastros) named for the stone. The name itself may derive from the cat goddess Bast, often depicted as a lioness, whose image carved in alabaster often surmounted perfume jars made of the same material. The ancient Etruscans also mined and made extensive use of alabaster in what is now the Italian district of Volterra. Like the Egyptians, the Etruscans made funeral urns and sarcophagi worked into images of their ancestors, the underworld, Greek mythology, and everyday scenes of Etruscan life.

While alabaster is found in many places around the world such as Mexico, England, and United States; the most prized grades are found almost exclusively in Volterra, Italy. The alabaster from this region is especially esteemed for its hardness, density, transparency, and velvety texture. There, the Chiellini family and their resident artisans have been creating remarkable chess sets for generations from this stone of infinite variation. We are proud to offer chess sets made from this material by Chielinni (now Scali) of Italy. Due to the translucence, luminosity, and other superior qualities of Italian alabaster, these amazingly beautiful chess sets become distinctive accent pieces in whatever room they are displayed.

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