In Nepal, Turquoise is widely used for jewelry and decorations, along with Red Coral. Turquoise is believed to hold both spiritual and protective qualities and was used in a variety of ceremonies. For example, in traditional Tibetan marriage ceremonies, it is affixed to an arrow and carried on the back of the bride, to protect her and ensure that she is guided forward in a manner that will best serve her and her family.
Mesoamerican Turquoise was mined as early as 200 CE and used by the Mayans and the Aztecs for decorative and spiritual purposes. Highly-polished chips were used to create marvelous mosaics. The Aztec mosaics are particularly impressive and consist of many thousands of stones. These mosaics encrusted shields, helmets, jewelry, cult statues, and elaborate masks. The gem was valued so highly that the most important Aztec deity, the solar god, Xiuhlecuhtli, name translates to “Lord of Turquoise”. The Aztec buried their dead with a small bead of Turquoise in their mouth, so that they would have a gift for the gods when the deceased arrived in the afterlife.
Archaeological evidence shows that Native American tribes have been mining Turquoise in the American Southwest for at least a millennium, if not far longer. As in other cultures, the stone was used for decorations and shamanic purposes, as well as being a valuable trade good. Southwestern tribes, particularly the Navajo, Zuni, Apache, Hopi, and Pueblo peoples consider Turquoise to be a protective stone and one that bestows ‘goodness’ on its owner. Bright blue stone is believed to be ‘male’ and is associated with Father Sky, while green ones are ‘female’ and represents Mother Earth. Historically, Blue Turquoise was given to boys and used to decorate their cradle boards to help them grow into strong warriors. Turquoise of both colors were considered essential components to the Medicine Bag of any great healer or shaman.
Navajo shamans famously used Turquoise in rain making ceremonies, by throwing the stone into a swift-moving river, or else holding it under running water. Turquoise is also tied to prayer sticks and is said to give shamans the ability to control and command the winds. Today, many Southwestern tribes use the stone for cloud-bursting and as decorations on rainmaking sticks. According to Apache lore, the most powerful Turquoise can be found at the end of a rainbow, where the ground is still moist from rain. Such stones should be affixed to rifles or arrows, and will increase accuracy in hunting and warfare. After his first successful hunt, a native boy is often given beads in celebration of his prowess.
To many Southwestern tribes, Turquoise is the most valuable gemstone of all and hardly any ceremony can be performed without it. Small fetishes are carved out of, or decorated with, Turquoise and added to medicine bag bundles. The bundles should not be touched by anyone other than the owner, and are carried for protection and good luck. Turquoise can also be used in love spells, to attract both men and women and make them faithful to their lover.