As the sticky resin ran from these ancient trees, leaves, twigs, fungus gnats, dragonflies and other insects could be caught up and become an inclusion in the amber. These add to the value and reveals priceless information about the flora and fauna of the ancient world. A moment in time frozen forever.
Neolithic tribes believed that amber was a piece of the sun fallen to earth and sunk into the sea. Greek myths claimed that amber represented the tears of Apollo’s daughters, Apollo being the God of the Sun. Priestesses wore amber beads for the magical energy stored in these beautiful stones. Ladies of the court of Rome thought that touching and stroking amber would create in them a youthful appearance, cool their hands in the summer heat and enhance fertility. As amber was said to bring good luck to the wearer, gladiators stitched pieces of amber into their clothing before a fight. Native American amber is said to represent the east wind of grandfather sun, Amber is still seen by many to be a sacred symbol of the sun. It is often called Tears of the Sun, Gold of the North, Hardened Honey, or Captured Sunshine.
The Amber workshop at Catherine Palace
Photography is not allowed in the room, so I’m afraid I have no pictures, but we also enjoyed visiting the workshop.
Best of all the attributes of amber is its pure beauty and the hundreds of glorious shades, generally from white through yellow, honey, butterscotch to a reddish brown. The darker the colour, the older the amber.
If you own some amber, then keep it in a sealed plastic bag away from heat. Amber is soft and a tiny drop of olive oil will help deal with any scratch. It will always look beautiful and very special, in addition to all its magical properties.
My snow-boots were worn through so that I walked on the ice that coated the rough mountain path, the soles of my feet numb with cold. Gasps of breath formed frozen crystals on those parts of my nose and cheeks not protected by scarf and fur hat. I had long since lost my small pony, the poor animal having bolted home in terror when the guns started, although whether she’d ever arrived is doubtful.
Home, if that is what you can call the house in which I had resided for so many years, no longer existed. It was but a shell of its former glory. I remembered how the darkness of the night seemed to press in upon me, almost as if I were back within those prison walls. I had closed my mind to the horrors I’d left behind, attempted to set aside my fears about those loved ones dear to my heart who had vanished from my life. Instead I’d fixed my weary gaze on the heels of my guide trudging ahead of me, knowing that if I was to survive, I must stay focused. This was my last chance to get out of Russia.
We walked for days, through ice, snow and blizzard, sustaining ourselves with hunks of none too clean stale bread, and with nothing to wet our palates but sucking on icicles. When, hours later, we staggered into a cave my knees gave way and I fell to the ground, weak with gratitude. I remember feeling a huge relief that at least I could rest for a while, thankful to be out of the bitter wind. The last two nights - or was it three -we’d slept in the open, not even daring to light a fire in case the
Bolsheviks should spot it and come searching. Curling myself thankfully into a corner, rubbing my hands and feet in an effort to stave off frost-bite, I pulled up my collar, tucked my knapsack beside me and told myself firmly that I must not fall asleep. I was afraid I might never wake again, due to the fierce cold.
But despite my best efforts I must have fallen asleep instantly out of sheer exhaustion, for I knew nothing more till I was woken by a shaft of daylight filtering into the cave at dawn, and some strange sound that had alerted me. I sat up abruptly, looking around for my guide. He was nowhere to be seen. The man to whom I’d paid an exorbitant sum, every last kopek I possessed, had deserted me. I was quite alone. But as the sound of horses’ hooves clattering over rocks penetrated my befuddled brain, I realised I was about to experience some unwelcome company.
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