Malachite and a really old story being retold
Written by Evdokia Samara
When I was about 21 years old I remember venturing in front of a jewellery store and seeing a ring with a simple gold band and a big oval green stone set together with small black diamonds. I instantly fell in love with the colour. Deep, rich, vibrant and warm green. I had seen before diamonds and sapphires even emeralds which I also loved but that stone, its opacity and the water shapes the stone created inside itself was something I hadn’t seen again.
It was then that my affair with malachite began. Now that I come to think about it, it was the experience of that day that made me start reading about semi-precious stones, their origins, their connections to myths, their properties and healing powers.
Malachite is sourced in many places around the world including Greece. In ancient times Egyptian women used it to create eyeshadow and Greeks added it to sacred temples believing in its purifying properties. It is even said that the columns of the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, one of the seven wonders of the old world, were covered with malachite as were some columns of the Agia Sofia in Constantinople.
Being young, adventurous and crazy in love at that period there were specific properties of the stone I chose to focus my attention on. Like the fact that it helps you know yourself better and gives you courage to set off to new adventures. It helps you open your horizons, break the chains of the past and understand and accept new situations. Lastly, what stuck with me, as I was in a long distance relationship then and mortified about it, was the fact that malachite should be kept close by in love couples that need courage to patiently wait to reunite.
As a history and literature lover and a Greek woman I will use this last fact to narrate a story, a story about a couple that had to wait many years to reunite and needed courage to surpass many obstacles in order to find one another again. It is a story almost all of you have certainly heard before. I remember my teacher teaching it to us when I was 9 and then again when I was 12 and again when I was 15 and at that point I already had enough of it. I knew the story inside out. And that was the love story of Odyssey and Penelope.
Odysseus and Penelope - Francesco Primaticcio
Being such a romantic when I was at school I reminisce thinking how such a strong love, such a bond was what I also wanted one day. Being a bit more cynic nowadays and a bit more of a feminist I have started thinking of this story in a completely different way.
So in the story Odyssey, the king of the mythical island of Ithaka (the real island of Ithaka is until today considered a mystery,its true location having never been found) leaves to go and fight on the side of his friend king Menelaos who wants to get his wife back from the prince of Troya, Paris, who has supposedly kidnapped her. The truth is many, including Homer suggest Helen of Troy left her husband because she was in love with Paris and not by force but Menelaos did not want to accept such a thing being on his side crazy in love with his beautiful wife and thus was created the epic poem of Iliad. But that is a story for another time.
So, back to our narration, the Trojan War lasted ten long years and after that Oddysseus had the misfortune of getting lost in the sea for another ten before reaching his island to get reunited with his wife and son. On the other hand Penelope being considered a widower and a queen of impeccable beauty started having many suitors that were more than eager to replace her husband. But using some tricks she was able to keep them at bay until her husband returned back to her and their love story burns bright until the 21st century.
Such a beautiful story and a happy ending. Because of her accomplishment Penelope is always seen as the symbol of fidelity and that of a good wife. And this is the point that spoils the whole story for me. As a strong, boss, independent woman of the 21st century I see the figure of Penelope from a different point of view.
Penelope - Domenico Beccafumi
Of course I don’t suggest Penelope was not in love with her husband, as deep down my romantic dreams still trim my heart. However, reading the story today I personally see a completely different figure to that the world has created for the face of the mythical queen of Ithaka.
In my opinion Penelope should be considered one of the strongest female figures of both Homer’s poems. She is left to run a kingdom on her own while having to also be a mother to a really young child. There are so many women today that can relate to that. Working, boss women who have a family to take care of at the same time.
Also I personally believe she does not want to marry anyone not only because she still has hope for the return of her love, Odysseus, but also because she is truly independent. She has been on her own for more than ten years when the suitors start appearing. What I see is a strong woman who appreciates her freedom of choice and the fact that her voice is heard. She has run the kingdom smoothly and her boy is now a young, grown prince.
Another obvious fact is that she is very clever. She has been extremely successful in keeping her suitors away without making them angry. She always keeps a low profile but in the end things happen her way. She is using knitting, a very feminine activity in the eyes of the rest, to resolve an issue that could have led her to an unwanted marriage or a rebellion. She is truly a unique example of a woman that has beauty and brains and is not afraid to use them.
Penelope and the suitors - John William Waterhouse
So, those are the reasons I personally love the character of Penelope in the epic poem of Odyssey and why I personally believe it is not fair to only see and teach to the world that this figure is just the symbol of fidelity and marriage, and after reading my article I hope you will agree with me as well.
Now, turning back to the properties of malachite I layed out for you at the beginning I would say that the mythical queen of Ithaka does not only link perfectly to this stone because of the distant love she endeavoured but also because she was a woman that truly new herself, what she was worth and what she liked, a woman that liked to keep her horizons open and knew how to break the chains of the past and also understand and accept new situations without reminiscing in tears the dreams of the past.
Those are some of the reasons our new collection, featuring gorgeous malachite jewelleries gets its name from this beautiful, independent queen. So, don’t wait any longer. If you want to feel strong, independent, beautiful women choose the pieces that speak to you from our collection and dazzle any suitor while running your own personal kingdom!
Evdokia Samara, Content Creator SALOME