Pearl: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


A pearl is a hard, generally spherical object produced within the soft tissue (specifically the mantle) of a living shelled mollusk. Just like the shell of a mollusk, a pearl is made up of calcium carbonate in minute crystalline form, which has been deposited in concentric layers. The ideal pearl is perfectly round and smooth, but many other shapes of pearls (baroque pearls) occur. The finest quality natural pearls have been highly valued as gemstones and objects of beauty for many centuries, and because of this, the word pearl has become a metaphor for something very rare, fine, admirable, and valuable.

Valuable pearls occur in the wild, but they are very rare. Cultured or farmed pearls from pearl oysters make up the majority of those that are currently sold. Pearls from the sea are valued more highly than freshwater pearls. Imitation or fake pearls are also widely sold in inexpensive jewelry, but the quality of their iridescence is usually very poor - and generally speaking, artificial pearls are easily distinguished from genuine pearls. Pearls have been harvested and cultivated primarily for use in jewelry, but in the past they were also stitched onto lavish clothing. Pearls have also been crushed and used in cosmetics, medicines, or in paint formulations.

Pearls that are considered to be of gemstone quality are almost always nacreous and iridescent, like the interior of the shell that produces them. However, almost all species of shelled mollusks are capable of producing pearls (formerly referred to as "calcareous concretions" by some sources) of lesser shine or less spherical shape. Although these may also be legitimately referred to as "pearls" by gemological labs and also under U.S. Federal Trade Commission rules,[1] and are formed in the same way, most of them have no value, except as curios.


Definition of a pearl

A black pearl and a shell of the black-lipped pearl oyster
Saltwater pearl oyster farm, Seram, Indonesia

Almost any shelled mollusk can, by natural processes, produce some kind of "pearl" when an irritating microscopic object becomes trapped within the mollusk's mantle folds, but the great majority of these "pearls" are not valued as gemstones. Nacreous pearls, the best-known and most commercially-significant pearls, are primarily produced by two groups of molluscan bivalves or clams. A nacreous pearl is made from layers of nacre, by the same living process as is used in the secretion of the mother of pearl which lines the shell.

A "natural pearl" is one that forms without any human intervention at all, in the wild, and is very rare. Many hundreds of pearl oysters or pearl mussels have to be gathered and opened, and thus killed, in order to find even one wild pearl, and for many centuries that was the only way pearls were obtained. This was the main reason why pearls fetched such extraordinary prices in the past. A cultured pearl, on the other hand, is one that has been formed with human intervention on a pearl farm. The vast majority of pearls on the market today are cultured pearls.[citation needed]

One family of nacreous pearl bivalves, the pearl oysters, lives in the sea while the other, very different group of bivalves live in freshwater; these are the river mussels such as the freshwater pearl mussel. Saltwater pearls can grow in several species of marine pearl oysters in the family Pteriidae. Freshwater pearls grow within certain (but by no means all) species of freshwater mussels in the order Unionida, the families Unionidae and Margaritiferidae.

Physical properties

A pearl being extracted from an akoya pearl oyster
Akoya pearl grafting shed in Xuwen, China.

The unique luster of pearls depends upon the reflection, refraction, and diffraction of light from the translucent layers. The thinner and more numerous the layers in the pearl, the finer the luster. The iridescence that pearls display is caused by the overlapping of successive layers, which breaks up light falling on the surface. In addition, pearls (especially cultured freshwater pearls) can be dyed yellow, green, blue, brown, pink, purple, or black.

Freshwater and saltwater pearls

Shell of one species of freshwater pearl mussel, Margaritifera margaritifera

Freshwater and saltwater pearls may sometimes look quite similar, but they come from different sources.

Natural freshwater pearls form in various species of freshwater mussels, family Unionidae, which live in lakes, rivers, ponds and other bodies of fresh water. These freshwater pearl mussels occur not only in hotter climates, but also in colder more temperate areas such as Scotland: see the freshwater pearl mussel. However, most freshwater cultured pearls sold today come from China.

Saltwater pearls grow within pearl oysters, family Pteriidae, which live in oceans. Saltwater pearl oysters are usually cultivated in protected lagoons or volcanic atolls.

Creation of a pearl

Diagram comparing a cross-section of a cultured pearl, upper, with a natural pearl, lower

The difference between natural and cultured pearls focuses on whether the pearl was created spontaneously by nature – without human intervention – or with human aid. Pearls are formed inside the shell of certain mollusks: as a defense mechanism to a potentially threatening irritant such as a parasite inside its shell, or an attack from outside, injuring the mantle tissue. The mollusk creates a pearl sac to seal off the irritation.

The mantle of the mollusk deposits layers of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) in the form of the mineral aragonite or a mixture of aragonite and calcite(Polymorphs with the same chemical formula, but different crystal structures) held together by an organic horn-like compound called conchiolin. The combination of aragonite and conchiolin is called nacre, which makes up mother-of-pearl. The commonly held belief that a grain of sand acts as the irritant is in fact rarely the case. Typical stimuli include organic material, parasites, or even damage that displaces mantle tissue to another part of the animal's body. These small particles or organisms enter the animal when the shell valves are open for feeding or respiration. In cultured pearls, the irritant is typically an introduced piece of the mantle epithelium, together or without a spherical bead (-> beaded or beadless cultured pearls). [2][3][4]

Natural pearls

Natural pearls are nearly 100% calcium carbonate and conchiolin. It is thought that natural pearls form under a set of accidental conditions when a microscopic intruder or parasite enters a bivalve mollusk, and settles inside the shell. The mollusk, being irritated by the intruder, forms a pearl sac of external mantle tissue cells and secretes the calcium carbonate and conchiolin to cover the irritant. This secretion process is repeated many times, thus producing a pearl. Natural pearls come in many shapes, with perfectly round ones being comparatively rare.

Typically the build up of a natural pearl consists of a brown central zone formed by columnar calcium carbonate (usually calcite, sometimes columnar aragonite) and a yellowish to white outer zone consisting of nacre (tabular aragonite). In a pearl cross section such as in Fig. 6 these two different materials can be seen. The presence of columnar calcium carbonate rich in organic material indicates juvenile mantel tissue that formed during the early stage of pearl development. We know, e.g. from human medicine, that displaced cells with a well-defined task, continue to perform their function. The term "cyst" is applied to such situations. The displacement may occur with an injury. The fragile rim of the shell is exposed and is prone to damage and injury. Crabs, other predators and parasites such as worm larvae may produce traumatic attacks and cause injuries in which some external mantle tissue cells are disconnected from their layer. Embedded in the conjunctive tissue of the mantel, these cells may survive and form a small pocket in which they continue to secrete their natural product: calcium carbonate. The pocket is called a pearl sack, and grows with time by cell division; in this way the pearl grows also. The juvenile mantle tissue cells, according to their stage of growth, produce columnar calcium carbonate, which is secreted from the inner surface of the pearl sack. With ongoing time the external mantle cells of the pearl sack proceed to the formation of tabular aragonite. When the transition to nacre secretion occurs, the brown pebble becomes covered with a nacreous coating. As this process progresses, the shell itself grows, and the pearl sack seems to travel into the shell. However, it actually stays in its original relative position within the mantle tissue. After a couple of years, a pearl will have formed and the shell might be found by a lucky pearl fisher.

Cultured pearls

Nuclei from Toba Pearl Island, Japan

Cultured pearls are the response of the shell on a tissue inplant. A tiny piece of mantle tissue of a donor shell is transplanted into a recipient shell. This graft will form a pearl sac and the tissue will precipitate calcium carbonate into this pocket. There are a number of options to produce cultured pearls: use freshwater or seawater shells, transplant the graft into the mantle or into the gonad, add a spherical bead or do it non-beaded. The large majority of saltwater cultured pearls are grown with beads, the trade name of the cultured pearls are Akoya, white or golden South sea, black Tahiti. The majority of beadless cultured pearls are mantle-grown in freshwater shells, tradename Chinese cultured pearls.

Cultured pearls (beadless or beaded) and imitation pearls can be distinguished from natural pearls by X-ray examination. Nucleated cultured pearls are often 'pre-formed' as they tend to follow the shape of the implanted shell bead nucleus. Once the pre-formed beads are inserted into the oyster, it secretes a few layers of nacre around the outside surface of the implant before it is removed after six months or more.

When a cultured pearl with bead is X-rayed, it reveals a different structure to that of a natural pearl. A beaded cultured pearl shows a solid center with no concentric growth rings, whereas a natural pearl shows a series of concentric growth rings. A beadless cultured pearl (whether of freshwater or saltwater origin) may show growth rings, but also a complex central cavity, witness of the first precipitation of the young pearl sac.

Gemological identification

A well equipped gem testing laboratory (e.g. SSEF, Guebelin, GIA, AGTA, HIRCO-INDIA) is able to distinguish natural pearls from cultured pearls by using a gemological x-ray in order to examine the center of a pearl. With an x-ray it is possible to see the growth rings of the pearl, where the layers of calcium carbonate are separated by thin layers of conchiolin. The differentiation of natural pearls from non-beaded cultured pearls can be very difficult without the use of this x-ray technique.

Natural and cultured pearls can be distinguished from imitation pearls using a microscope. Another method of testing for imitations is to rub the pearl against the surface of a front tooth. Imitation pearls are completely smooth, but natural and cultured pearls are composed of nacre platelets, which both feel slightly gritty.

Value of a natural pearl

Quality natural pearls are very rare jewels. The actual value of a natural pearl is determined in the same way as it would be for other "precious" gems. The valuation factors include size, shape, quality of surface, orient and luster.

Single natural pearls are often sold as a collector's item, or set as centerpieces in unique jewelry. Very few matched strands of natural pearls exist, and those that do often sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. (In 1917, jeweler Pierre Cartier purchased the Fifth Avenue mansion that is now the New York Cartier store for US$100 cash and a double strand of matched natural pearls valued at the time at US$1 million.)

Keshi pearls, although they often occur by chance, are not considered natural pearls. They are a byproduct of the culturing process, and hence do not happen without human intervention. These pearls are quite small: typically a few millimeters in size. Keshi pearls are produced by many different types of marine mollusks and freshwater mussels in China.[5] Today many "keshi" pearls are actually intentional, with post-harvest shells returned to the water to regenerate a pearl in the existing pearl sac.

Origin of a natural pearl

Previously, natural pearls were found in many parts of the world. Present day natural pearling is confined mostly to seas off Bahrain. Australia also has one of the world's last remaining fleets of pearl diving ships. Australian pearl divers dive for south sea pearl oysters to be used in the cultured south sea pearl industry. The catch of pearl oysters is similar to the numbers of oysters taken during the natural pearl days. Hence significant numbers of natural pearls are still found in the Australian Indian Ocean waters from wild oysters. X-Ray examination is required to positively verify natural pearls found today.

Different types of cultured pearls, including black pearls

A blister pearl, a half-sphere, formed flush against the shell of the pearl oyster

Black pearls, frequently referred to as Black Tahitian Pearls, are highly valued because of their rarity; the culturing process for them dictates a smaller volume output and can never be mass produced.[citation needed] This is due to bad health and/or non-survival of the process, rejection of the nucleus and their sensitivity to changing climatic and ocean conditions. Before the days of cultured pearls, black pearls were rare and highly valued for the simple reason that white pearl oysters rarely produced naturally black pearls, and black pearl oysters rarely produced any natural pearls at all.

Since the development of pearl culture technology, the black pearl oyster found in Tahiti and many other Pacific Island areas has been extensively used for producing cultured pearls. The rarity of the black cultured pearl is now a "comparative" issue. The black cultured pearl is rare when compared to Chinese freshwater cultured pearls, and Japanese and Chinese akoya cultured pearls, and is more valuable than these pearls. However, it is more abundant than the South Sea pearl, which is more valuable than the black cultured pearl. This is simply because the black pearl oyster Pinctada margaritifera is far more abundant than the elusive, rare, and larger south sea pearl oyster Pinctada maxima, which cannot be found in lagoons, but which must be dived for in a rare number of deep ocean habitats or grown in hatcheries.

Black cultured pearls from the black pearl oyster – Pinctada margaritifera – are not South Sea pearls, although they are often mistakenly described as black South Sea pearls. In the absence of an official definition for the pearl from the black oyster, these pearls are usually referred to as "black Tahitian pearls".

The correct definition of a South Sea pearl – as described by CIBJO and GIA – is a pearl produced by the Pinctada maxima pearl oyster. South Sea pearls are the color of their host Pinctada maxima oyster – and can be white, silver, pink, gold, cream, and any combination of these basic colors, including overtones of the various colors of the rainbow displayed in the pearl nacre of the oyster shell itself.

Pearls from other species

Biologically speaking, under the right set of circumstances, almost any shelled mollusk can produce some kind of pearl, however, most of these molluscan pearls have no luster or iridescence. The great majority of mollusk species produce pearls which are not attractive to look at, and are sometimes not even very durable, such that they usually have no value at all, except perhaps to a scientist, a collector, or as a curiosity. These objects used to be referred to as "calcareous concretions" by some gemologists, even though a malacologist would still consider them to be pearls. Valueless pearls of this type are sometimes found in edible mussels, edible oysters, escargot snails, and so on. The GIA and CIBJO now simply use the term 'pearl' (or, where appropriate, the more descriptive term 'non-nacreous pearl') when referring to such items[6][7] and, under Federal Trade Commission rules, various mollusc pearls may be referred to as 'pearls' without qualification. [1]

Shell of the Indian volute or bailer shell Melo melo, surrounded by a number of Melo pearls

A few species produce pearls that can be of interest as gemstones. These species include the bailer shell Melo (genus), the giant clam Tridacna, various scallop species, Pen shells Pinna (genus), and abalones. Another example is the conch pearl (sometimes referred to simply as the 'pink pearl'), which is found very rarely growing between the mantle and the shell of the queen conch or pink conch, Strombus gigas, a large sea snail or marine gastropod from the Caribbean Sea. These pearls, which are often pink in color, are a by-product of the conch fishing industry, and the best of them display a shimmering optical effect related to chatoyance known as 'flame structure'.

Somewhat similar gastropod pearls, this time more orange in hue, are (again very rarely) found in the horse conch Pleuroploca gigantea.

Largest known pearl from a giant clam

The largest pearl known was found in the Philippines in 1934. It is a naturally-occurring, non-nacreous, calcareous concretion (pearl) from a giant clam. Because it did not grow in a pearl oyster it is not pearly, but instead it has a porcellaneous surface. In other words, it is glossy like a china plate. Other pearls from giant clams are known to exist, but this is a particularly large one. The pearl weighs 14 lb (6.4 kg) and was supposedly first discovered by an anonymous Filipino Muslim diver off the island of Palawan in 1934. According to the legend as it is currently told, a Palawan chieftain gave the pearl to Wilbur Dowell Cobb in 1936 as a gift for having saved the life of his son. The pearl had been named the "Pearl of Allah" by the Muslim tribal chief, because it resembled a turbaned head. Another even more elaborate legend says that this object is actually the Pearl of Lao-Tzu, a cultured pearl created with a carved amulet and then supposedly progressively grafted into several giant clams, before supposedly being lost due to a shipwreck in 1745. [8] This legend has been discredited, however because this pearl is indeed the product of a giant clam, Tridacna gigas, which cannot be grafted. The pearl is also a whole pearl, not a mabe pearl, and whole pearl culturing technology is only 100 years old. [9]

The history of pearl hunting and pearl farming

Pearl hunting

For thousands of years, most seawater pearls were retrieved by divers working in the Indian Ocean, in areas like the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, and in the Gulf of Mannar.[citation needed]

Starting in the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD), the Chinese hunted extensively for seawater pearls in the South China Sea.[citation needed]

Catching of pearls, Bern Physiologus (IX century)

When Spanish conquistadors arrived in the Western Hemisphere, they discovered that around the islands of Cubagua and Margarita, some 200 km north of the Venezuelan coast, was an extensive pearl bed. One discovered and named pearl, La Peregrina, was offered to the Spanish queen.[citation needed] According to Garcilasso de la Vega, who says that he saw La Peregrina at Seville in 1507, (Garcilasso, "Historie des Incas, Rois du Perou," Amsterdam, 1704, Vol. II, P. 352.) this was found at Panama in 1560 by a negro who was rewarded with his liberty, and his owner with the office of alcalde of Panama.

Margarita pearls are extremely difficult to find today and are known for their unique yellowish color. The most famous Margarita necklace that any one can see today is the one that then Venezuelan President Romulo Betancourt gave to Jacqueline Kennedy when she and her husband, President John F. Kennedy paid an official visit to Venezuela.[citation needed]

Before the beginning of the 20th Century, pearl hunting was the most common way of harvesting pearls. Divers manually pulled oysters from ocean floors and river bottoms and checked them individually for pearls. Not all mussels and oysters produce pearls. In a haul of three tons, only three or four oysters will produce perfect pearls[citation needed].

The development of pearl farming

Today, the cultured pearls on the market can be divided into two categories. The first category covers the beaded cultured pearls, including Akoya, South Sea and Tahiti. These pearls are gonad grown, and there is usually one pearl grown at a time. This limits the number of pearls at a harvest period. The pearls are usually harvested after one year for akoya, 2–4 years for Tahitian and South Sea, and 2–7 years for freshwater. This perliculture process was first developed by the British biologist William Saville-Kent who passed the information along to Tatsuhei Mise and Tokichi Nishikawa from Japan. The second category includes the non-beaded freshwater cultured pearls, as the Biwa or Chinese pearls. As they grow in the mantle, where on each wing up to 25 grafts can be implanted, these pearls are much more frequent and do saturate the market completely. An impressive improvement of quality has taken place in the last ten years when the former rice grain-shaped pebbles are compared with the near round pearls of today.

The nucleus bead in in a beaded cultured pearl is generally a polished sphere made from freshwater mussel shell. Along with a small piece of mantle tissue from another mollusk (donor shell) to serve as a catalyst for the pearl sac, it is surgically implanted into the gonad (reproductive organ) of a saltwater mollusk. In freshwater perliculture, only the piece of tissue is used in most cases, and is inserted into the fleshy mantle of the host mussel. South Sea and Tahitian pearl oysters, also known as Pinctada maxima and Pinctada margaritifera, which survive the subsequent surgery to remove the finished pearl, are often implanted with a new, larger beads as part of the same procedure and then returned to the water for another 2–3 years of growth.

White pearl necklace

Despite the common misperception, Mikimoto did not discover the process of pearl culture. The accepted process of pearl culture was developed by the british Biologist William Saville-Kent in Australia and brought to Japan by Tokichi Nishikawa and Tatsuhei Mise. Nishikawa was granted the patent in 1916, and married the daughter of Mikimoto. Mikimoto was able to use Nishikawa's technology. After the patent was granted in 1916, the technology was immediately commercially applied to akoya pearl oysters in Japan in 1916. Mise's brother was the first to produce a commercial crop of pearls in the akoya oyster. Mitsubishi's Baron Iwasaki immediately applied the technology to the south sea pearl oyster in 1917 in the Philippines, and later in Buton, and Palau. Mitsubishi was the first to produce a cultured south sea pearl – although it was not until 1928 that the first small commercial crop of pearls was successfully produced.

The original Japanese cultured pearls, known as akoya pearls, are produced by a species of small pearl oyster, Pinctada fucata martensii, which is no bigger than 6 to 8 cm in size, hence akoya pearls larger than 10 mm in diameter are extremely rare and highly prized. Today, a hybrid mollusk is used in both Japan and China in the production of akoya pearls. It is a cross between the original Japanese species, and the Chinese species Pinctada chemnitzii.[10]

Recent pearl production

China has recently overtaken Japan in akoya pearl production. Japan has all but ceased its production of akoya pearls smaller than 8 mm. Japan maintains its status as a pearl processing center, however, and imports the majority of Chinese akoya pearl production. These pearls are then processed (often simply matched and sorted), relabeled as product of Japan, and exported.[11]

In the past couple of decades, cultured pearls have been produced using larger oysters in the south Pacific and Indian Ocean. The largest pearl oyster is the Pinctada maxima, which is roughly the size of a dinner plate. South Sea pearls are characterized by their large size and warm luster. Sizes up to 14 mm in diameter are not uncommon. South Sea pearls are primarily produced in Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Mitsubishi commenced pearl culture with the south sea pearl oyster in 1916, as soon as the technology patent was commercialized. By 1931 this project was showing signs of success, but was upset by the death of Tatsuhei Mise. Although the project was recommenced after Tatsuhei's death, the project was discontinued at the beginning of WWII before significant productions of pearls were achieved.

After WWII, new south sea pearl projects were commenced in the early 1950s in Burma and Kuri Bay and Port Essington in Australia. Japanese companies were involved in all projects using technicians from the original Mitsubishi south sea pre-war projects.

Freshwater pearl farming

In 1914, pearl farmers began growing cultured freshwater pearls using the pearl mussels native to Lake Biwa. This lake, the largest and most ancient in Japan, lies near the city of Kyoto. The extensive and successful use of the Biwa Pearl Mussel is reflected in the name Biwa pearls, a phrase which was at one time nearly synonymous with freshwater pearls in general. Since the time of peak production in 1971, when Biwa pearl farmers produced six tons of cultured pearls, pollution has caused the virtual extinction of the industry. Japanese pearl farmers recently cultured a hybrid pearl mussel – a cross between Biwa Pearl Mussels and a closely related species from China, Hyriopsis cumingi, in Lake Kasumigaura. This industry has also nearly ceased production, due to pollution.

Japanese pearl producers also invested in producing cultured pearls with freshwater mussels in the region of Shanghai, China. China has since become the world's largest producer of freshwater pearls, producing more than 1,500 metric tons per year (in addition to metric measurements, Japanese units of measurement such as the kan and momme are sometimes encountered in the pearl industry).

Led by pearl pioneer John Latendresse and his wife Chessy, the United States began farming cultured freshwater pearls in the mid 1960's. National Geographic Magazine introduced the American cultured pearl as a commercial product in their August 1985 issue. The Tennessee pearl farm has emerged as a tourist destination in recent years, but commercial production of freshwater pearls has ceased.

Momme Weight

For many cultured pearl dealers and wholesalers, the preferred weight measure used for loose pearls and pearl strands is momme. Momme is a weight measure used by the Japanese for centuries. Today, momme weight is still the standard unit of measure used by most pearl dealers to communicate with pearl producers and wholesalers. Momme is pronounced "moh-may." One momme = 1/1000 kan. Reluctant to give up tradition, in 1891, the Japanese government formalized the kan measure as being exactly 1 kan = 3.75 kilograms or 8.28 pounds. Hence, 1 momme = 3.75 grams or 3750 milligrams.

In the United States, 19th – 20th centuries, through trade with Japan in silk cloth the momme became a unit indicating the quality of silk cloth, = the weight in pounds of 100 yards of silk cloth 45 inches wide.

One carat = 4 grains = 200 milligrams = 1/5 gram One grain = 1/4 carat = 50 milligrams = 1/20 gram One momme = 18.75 carat = 3750 milligrams = 3.75 grams One kan = 18,750 carat = 3750 grams = 3.75 kilos

Why is momme weight still used in the cultured pearl industry? Though millimeter size range is typically the first factor in determining a cultured pearl necklace's value, the momme weight of pearl necklace will allow the buyer to quickly determine if the necklace is properly proportioned. This is especially true when comparing the larger south sea and Tahitian pearl necklaces.

Pearls in jewelry

The value of the pearls in jewelry is determined by a combination of the luster, color, size, lack of surface flaw and symmetry that are appropriate for the type of pearl under consideration. Among those attributes, luster is the most important differentiator of pearl quality according to jewelers.

All factors being equal, however, the larger the pearl the more valuable it is. Large, perfectly round pearls are rare and highly valued. Teardrop-shaped pearls are often used in pendants.


Woman with a Pearl Necklace, by Jan Vermeer van Delft, 1665

Pearls come in eight basic shapes: round, semi-round, button, drop, pear, oval, baroque, and circled. Perfectly round pearls are the rarest and most valuable shape. Semi-rounds are also used in necklaces or in pieces where the shape of the pearl can be disguised to look like it is a perfectly round pearl. Button pearls are like a slightly flattened round pearl and can also make a necklace, but are more often used in single pendants or earrings where the back half of the pearl is covered, making it look like a larger, rounder pearl.

Drop and pear shaped pearls are sometimes referred to as teardrop pearls and are most often seen in earrings, pendants, or as a center pearl in a necklace. Baroque pearls have a different appeal to them than more standard shapes because they are often highly irregular and make unique and interesting shapes. They are also commonly seen in necklaces. Circled pearls are characterized by concentric ridges, or rings, around the body of the pearl.

In general, cultured pearls are less valuable than natural pearls, and imitation pearls are less valuable than cultured pearls. One way that jewelers can determine whether a pearl is cultured or natural is to have a gem lab perform an x-ray of the pearl. If the x-ray reveals a nucleus, the pearl is likely a bead-nucleated saltwater pearl. If no nucleus is present, but irregular and small dark inner spots indicating a cavity are visible, combined with concentric rings of organic substance, the pearl is likely a cultured freshwater. Cultured freshwater pearls can often be confused for natural pearls which present as homogeneous pictures which continuously darken toward the surface of the pearl. Natural pearls will often show larger cavities where organic matter has dried out and decomposed.

Some imitation pearls are simply made of mother-of-pearl, coral or conch shell, while others are made from glass and are coated with a solution containing fish scales called essence d'Orient. Although imitation pearls look the part, they do not have the same weight or smoothness as real pearls, and their luster will also dim greatly.

Lengths of pearl necklaces

Portrait of Caterina Sagredo Barbarigo by Rosalba Carriera, cir. 1740. The subject is wearing a single-strand pearl collar and pendant pearl earrings
Queen of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, owned one of the most famous collections of natural pearls. She is wearing a multi-strand choker and a rope of pearls, possibly with matching bracelet and earrings

There is a special vocabulary used to describe the length of pearl necklaces. While most other necklaces are simply referred to by their physical measurement, pearl necklaces are named by how low they hang when worn around the neck. A collar, measuring 10 to 13 inches or 25 to 33 cm in length, sits directly against the throat and does not hang down the neck at all; collars are often made up of multiple strands of pearls. Pearl chokers, measuring 14 to 16 inches or 35 to 41 cm in length, nestle just at the base of the neck. A strand called a princess length, measuring 17 to 19 inches or 43 to 48 cm in length, comes down to or just below the collarbone. A matinee length, measuring 20 to 24 inches or 50 to 60 cm in length, falls just above the breasts. An opera length, measuring 28 to 35 inches or 70 to 90 cm in length, will be long enough to reach the breastbone or sternum of the wearer; and longer still, a pearl rope, measuring more than 45 inches or 115 cm in length, is any length that falls down farther than an opera.

Necklaces can also be classified as uniform, or graduated. In a uniform strand of pearls, all pearls are classified as the same size, but actually fall in a range. A uniform strand of akoya pearls, for example, will measure within 0.5 mm. So a strand will never be 7 mm, but will be 6.5-7 mm. Freshwater pearls, Tahitian pearls, and South Sea pearls all measure to a full millimeter when considered uniform.

A graduated strand of pearls most often has at least 3 mm of differentiation from the ends to the center of the necklace. Popularized in the United States during the 1950s by the GIs bringing strands of cultured akoya pearls home from Japan, a 3.5 momme, 3 mm to 7 mm graduated strand was much more affordable than a uniform strand because most of the pearls were small.

Colors of pearl jewelry

Earrings and necklaces can also be classified on the grade of the color of the pearl. While white, and more recently black, saltwater pearls are by far the most popular, other color tints can be found on pearls from the oceans. Pink, blue, champagne, green, black and even purple saltwater pearls can be encountered, but to collect enough pearls to form a complete string of the same size and same shade can take years.

Religious references

Hindu scriptures

The Vedic tradition describes the sacred Nine Pearls which were first documented in the Garuda Purana, one of the books of the Hindu holy text Atharvaveda. Ayurveda contains references to pearl powder as a stimulant of digestion and to treat mental ailments. According to Marco Polo, the kings of Malabar wore a necklace of 108 rubies and 108 precious pearls which was given from one generation of kings to the next. The reason was that every king had to say 108 prayers every morning and every evening.[12] At least until the beginning of the 20th century it was a Hindu custom to present a completely new, undrilled pearl and pierce it during the ceremony.[12]

The Pearl or Mukta in Sanskrit is also associated with many Hindu deities. The most famous being the Koustubha which Lord Vishnu wears on his chest. Apart from religious connotations, stories and folklore abound of pearls occurring in snakes, the Naaga Mani, and elephants, the Gaja Mukta.

Hebrew scriptures

According to Rebbenu Bachya, the word Yahalom in the verse Exodus 28:18 means "pearl" and was the stone on the Hoshen representing the tribe of Zebulun. This is generally disputed among scholars, particularly since the word in question in most manuscripts is actually Yasepheh - the word from which jasper derives; scholars think that refers to green jasper (the rarest and most prized form in early times) rather than red jasper (the most common form). Yahalom is usually translated by the Septuagint as an "onyx", but sometimes as "beryl" or as "jasper"; onyx only started being mined after the Septuagint was written, so the Septuagint's term "onyx" probably does not mean onyx – onyx is originally an Assyrian word meaning ring, and so could refer to anything used for making rings. Yahalom is similar to a Hebrew word meaning hit hard, so some people think that it means diamond. The variation in possibilities of meaning for this sixth stone in the Hoshen is reflected in different translations of the Bible – the King James Version translates the sixth stone as diamond, the New International Version translates it as emerald, and the Vulgate translates it as jaspis – meaning jasper. There is a wide range of views among traditional sources about which tribe the stone refers to.

New Testament scriptures

Religious pendant showing Christ blessing, framed with rubies and pearls, from the Byzantine empire, 12th or 13th century

In a Christian New Testament parable, Jesus compared the Kingdom of Heaven to a "pearl of great price" in Matthew 13: 45-46. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it."

The language of symbolism was in common use around the time of Jesus Christ; most people were familiar with the symbolic meanings. The circle is a symbol of God because it has no beginning and no end. The circle or pearl was considered to represent Love, Knowledge (the combination of equal amounts of Love and Knowledge is a symbol of Wisdom, the 2 circles intertwined (owl eyes) is symbolic of Wisdom. Some other pearls are Truth, and Faith.

The twelve gates of the New Jerusalem are reportedly each made of a single pearl in Revelation 21:21, that is, the Pearly Gates. "And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every gate was of one pearl: and the streets of the city were pure gold, as if transparent glass."

Holy things are compared to pearls in Matthew 7:6. "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you."

Pearls are also found in numerous references showing the wickedness and pride of a people, as in Revelation 18:16. "And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!"

Islamic scriptures

The Qur'an often mentions that dwellers of paradise will be adorned with pearls:

22:23 God will admit those who believe and work righteous deeds, to Gardens beneath which rivers flow: they shall be adorned therein with bracelets of gold and pearls; and their garments there will be of silk.

35:33 Gardens of Eternity will they enter: therein will they be adorned with bracelets of gold and pearls; and their garments there will be of silk.

The handsome young boys in paradise are similarly depicted:

52:24 Round about them will serve, [devoted] to them, youths [handsome] as pearls well-guarded.

Other scriptures

The metaphor of a pearl appears in the longer Hymn of the Pearl, a poem respected for its high literary quality, and use of layered theological metaphor, found within one of the texts of Gnosticism.

The Pearl of Great Price is a book of scripture in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Non-religious cultural references

"Pearl" is used as a first name in various languagues, usually as a female name. It is also used as family name.

Various locations in different coutries are called "pearl" - see Pearl (disambiguation).


See also


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ Neil H. Landman, et al (2001) Pearls: A Natural History, Harry Abrams, Inc., 232 pp., ISBN 0-8109-4495-2
  3. ^ Pearl oyster farming and pearl culture
  4. ^ How Pearls are Formed: The Pearl Sac Theory
  5. ^ Hanni, H A (Juni 2006). "Keshi Perlen: Ein Erklarungbedurftiger Begriff (Keshi Pearls a term in need of explanation". Zeitschrift der Deutschen Gemologischen Gesellschaft (DGemG) 55 (1-2): 39–50. 
  6. ^ [1] CIBJO 'Pearl Book'
  7. ^ [2] GIA 'Gems & Gemology' magazine news archive
  8. ^ [3] (History of The Pearl of Allah).
  9. ^ Pearl Weight and The Pearl of Lao Tzu.
  10. ^ [4] The origin of the Japanese akoya
  11. ^ Fred Ward, (2002) Pearls (Fred Ward Gem Book), 3rd Edition,Gem Guides Book Company, pgs. 35-36, ISBN 188765108X
  12. ^ a b "Kunz, Book of the Pearl, New York, The Century Company, 1908, pages 412, 350)

Hänni, H.A. (2007) A description of pearl farming with Pinctada maxima in South East Asia. J. Gemm. 30, 7/8, 357-365. Hänni, H.A. (2007) How to make a cultured pearl. Gems & Jewellery, December, 9. Hänni, H.A. (2007) A description of pearl farming with Pinctada maxima in South East Asia. J. Gemm. 30, 7/8, 357-365. Hänni, H.A. (2007) How to make a cultured pearl. Gems & Jewellery, December, 9.

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Pearl is a city in Mississippi.

  • Ramada Jackson Airport South, 341 Airport Rd., +1 601-933-1122, [1].
Routes through Pearl
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Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

by Pearl Poet
Sir Gawain first page.jpg

Perle, pleasaunte to prynces paye
To clanly clos in golde so clere,
Oute of oryent, I hardyly saye,
Ne proued I neuer her precios pere.
O rounde, so reken in vche araye,
So smal, so smoþe her sydeȝ were,
Quere-so-euer I jugged gemmeȝ gaye,
I sette hyr sengeley in synglere.
Allas! I leste hyr in on erbere;
Þurȝ gresse to grounde hit fro me yot.
I dewyne, fordolked of luf-daungere
Of þat pryuy perle wythouten spot.

Syþen in þat spote hit fro me sprange,
Ofte haf I wayted, wyschande þat wele,
Þat wont watȝ whyle deuoyde my wrange
And heuen my happe and al my hele.
Þat dotȝ bot þrych my hert þrange,
My breste in bale bot bolne and bele;
Ȝet þoȝt me neuer so swete a sange
As stylle stounde let to me stele.
For soþe þer fleten to me fele,
To þenke hir color so clad in clot.
O moul, þou marreȝ a myry iuele,
My priuy perle wythouten spotte.


Þat spot of spyseȝ mot nedeȝ sprede,
Þer such rycheȝ to rot is runne;
Blomeȝ blayke and blwe and rede
Þer schyneȝ ful schyr agayn þe sunne.
Flor and fryte may not be fede
Þer hit doun drof in moldeȝ dunne;
For vch gresse mot grow of grayneȝ dede;
No whete were elleȝ to woneȝ wonne.
Of goud vche goude is ay bygonne;
So semly a sede moȝt fayly not,
Þat spryngande spyceȝ vp ne sponne
Of þat precios perle wythouten spotte.

To þat spot þat I in speche expoun
I entred in þat erber grene,
In Augoste in a hyȝ seysoun,
Quen corne is coruen wyth crokeȝ kene.
On huyle þer perle hit trendeled doun
Schadowed þis worteȝ ful schyre and schene,
Gilofre, gyngure and gromylyoun,
And pyonys powdered ay bytwene.
Ȝif hit watȝ semly on to sene,
A fayr reflayr ȝet fro hit flot.
Þer wonys þat worþyly, I wot and wene,
My precious perle wythouten spot.

Bifore þat spot my honde I spenned
For care ful colde þat to me caȝt;
A deuely dele in my hert denned,
Þaȝ resoun sette myseluen saȝt.

I playned my perle þat þer watȝ spenned
Wyth fyrce skylleȝ þat faste faȝt;
Þaȝ kynde of Kryst me comfort kenned,
My wreched wylle in wo ay wraȝte.
I felle vpon þat floury flaȝt,
Suche odour to my herneȝ schot;
I slode vpon a slepyng-slaȝte
On þat precios perle wythouten spot.

Fro spot my spyryt þer sprang in space;
My body on balke þer bod in sweuen.
My goste is gon in Godeȝ grace
In auenture þer meruayleȝ meuen.
I ne wyste in þis worlde quere þat hit wace,
Bot I knew me keste þer klyfeȝ cleuen;
Towarde a foreste I bere þe face,
Where rych rokkeȝ wer to dyscreuen.
Þe lyȝt of hem myȝt no mon leuen,
Þe glemande glory þat of hem glent;
For wern neuer webbeȝ þat wyȝeȝ weuen
Of half so dere adubbemente.

Dubbed wern alle þo downeȝ sydeȝ
Wyth crystal klyffeȝ so cler of kynde.
Holtewodeȝ bryȝt aboute hem bydeȝ
Of bolleȝ as blwe as ble of Ynde;
As bornyst syluer þe lef on slydeȝ,
Þat þike con trylle on vch a tynde.

Quen glem of glodeȝ agaynȝ hem glydeȝ,
Wyth schymeryng schene ful schrylle þay schynde.
Þe grauayl þat on grounde con grynde
Wern precious perleȝ of oryente:
Þe sunnebemeȝ bot blo and blynde
In respecte of þat adubbement.

The adubbemente of þo downeȝ dere
Garten my goste al greffe forȝete.
So frech flauoreȝ of fryteȝ were,
As fode hit con me fayre refete.
Fowleȝ þer flowen in fryth in fere,
Of flaumbande hweȝ, boþe smale and grete;
Bot sytole-stryng and gyternere
Her reken myrþe moȝt not retrete;
For quen þose bryddeȝ her wyngeȝ bete,
Þay songen wyth a swete asent.
So gracios gle couþe no mon gete
As here and se her adubbement.

So al watȝ dubbet on dere asyse
Þat fryth þer fortwne forth me fereȝ.
Þat derþe þerof for to deuyse
Nis no wyȝ worþé þat tonge bereȝ.
I welke ay forth in wely wyse;
No bonk so byg þat did me dereȝ.
Þe fyrre in þe fryth, þe feier con ryse
Þe playn, þe plontteȝ, þe spyse, þe
And raweȝ and randeȝ and rych reuereȝ,
As fyldor fyn her bonkes brent.
I wan to a water by schore þat schereȝ --
Lorde, dere watȝ hit adubbement!


The dubbemente of þo derworth depe
Wern bonkeȝ bene of beryl bryȝt.
Swangeande swete þe water con swepe,
Wyth a rownande rourde raykande aryȝt.
In þe founce þer stonden stoneȝ stepe,
As glente þurȝ glas þat glowed and glyȝt,
As stremande sterneȝ, quen stroþe-men slepe,
Staren in welkyn in wynter nyȝt;
For vche a pobbel in pole þer pyȝt
Watȝ emerad, saffer, oþer gemme gente,
Þat alle þe loȝe lemed of lyȝt,
So dere watȝ hit adubbement.

The dubbement dere of doun and daleȝ,
Of wod and water and wlonk playneȝ,
Bylde in me blys, abated my baleȝ,
Fordidden my stresse, dystryed my payneȝ.
Doun after a strem þat dryȝly haleȝ
I bowed in blys, bredful my brayneȝ;
Þe fyrre I folȝed þose floty valeȝ,
Þe more strenghþe of ioye myn herte strayneȝ.
As fortune fares þer as ho frayneȝ,
Wheþer solace ho sende oþer elleȝ sore,
Þe wyȝ to wham her wylle ho wayneȝ
Hytteȝ to haue ay more and more.

More of wele watȝ in þat wyse
Þen I cowþe telle þaȝ I tom hade,
For vrþely herte myȝt not suffyse
To þe tenþe dole of þo gladneȝ glade;

Forþy I þoȝt þat Paradyse
Watȝ þer ouer gayn þo bonkeȝ brade.
I hoped þe water were a deuyse
Bytwene myrþeȝ by mereȝ made;
Byȝonde þe broke, by slente oþer slade,
I hoped þat mote merked wore.
Bot þe water watȝ depe, I dorst not wade,
And euer me longed ay more and more.

More and more, and ȝet wel mare,
Me lyste to se þe broke byȝonde;
For if hit watȝ fayr þer I con fare,
Wel loueloker watȝ þe fyrre londe.
Abowte me con I stote and stare;
To fynde a forþe faste con I fonde.
Bot woþeȝ mo iwysse þer ware,
Þe fyrre I stalked by þe stronde.
And euer me þoȝt I schulde not wonde
For wo þer weleȝ so wynne wore.
Þenne nwe note me com on honde
Þat meued my mynde ay more and more.

More meruayle con my dom adaunt:
I seȝ byȝonde þat myry mere
A crystal clyffe ful relusaunt;
Mony ryal ray con fro hit rere.
At þe fote þerof þer sete a faunt,
A mayden of menske, ful debonere;
Blysnande whyt watȝ hyr bleaunt.
I knew hyr wel, I hade sen hyr ere.

As glysnande golde þat man con schere,
So schon þat schene an-vnder shore.
On lenghe I loked to hyr þere;
Þe lenger, I knew hyr more and more.

The more I frayste hyr fayre face,
Her fygure fyn quen I had fonte,
Suche gladande glory con to me glace
As lyttel byfore þerto watȝ wonte.
To calle hyr lyste con me enchace,
Bot baysment gef myn hert a brunt.
I seȝ hyr in so strange a place,
Such a burre myȝt make myn herte blunt.
Þenne vereȝ ho vp her fayre frount,
Hyr vysayge whyt as playn yuore:
Þat stonge myn hert ful stray atount,
And euer þe lenger, þe more and more.

More þen me lyste my drede aros.
I stod ful stylle and dorste not calle;
Wyth yȝen open and mouth ful clos
I stod as hende as hawk in halle.
I hoped þat gostly watȝ þat porpose;
I dred onende quat schulde byfalle,
Lest ho me eschaped þat I þer chos,
Er I at steuen hir moȝt stalle.
Þat gracios gay wythouten galle,
So smoþe, so smal, so seme slyȝt,
Ryseȝ vp in hir araye ryalle,
A precios pyece in perleȝ pyȝt.


Perleȝ pyȝte of ryal prys
Þere moȝt mon by grace haf sene,
Quen þat frech as flor-de-lys
Doun þe bonke con boȝe bydene.
Al blysnande whyt watȝ hir beau biys,
Vpon at sydeȝ, and bounden bene
Wyth þe myryeste margarys, at my deuyse,
Þat euer I seȝ ȝet with myn ene;
Wyth lappeȝ large, I wot and I wene,
Dubbed with double perle and dyȝte;
Her cortel of self sute schene,
Wyth precios perleȝ al vmbepyȝte.

A pyȝt coroune ȝet wer þat gyrle
Of mariorys and non oþer ston.
Hiȝe pynakled of cler quyt perle,
Wyth flurted flowreȝ perfet vpon.
To hed hade ho non oþer werle;
Her here leke, al hyr vmbegon,
Her semblaunt sade for doc oþer erle,
Her ble more blaȝt þen whalleȝ bon.
As schorne golde schyr her fax þenne schon,
On schyldereȝ þat leghe vnlapped lyȝte.
Her depe colour ȝet wonted non
Of precios perle in porfyl pyȝte.

Pyȝt watȝ poyned and vche a hemme
At honde, at sydeȝ, at ouerture,
Wyth whyte perle and non oþer gemme,
And bornyste quyte watȝ hyr uesture.

Bot a wonder perle wythouten wemme
Inmyddeȝ hyr breste watȝ sette so sure;
A manneȝ dom moȝt dryȝly demme,
Er mynde moȝt malte in hit mesure.
I hope no tong moȝt endure
No sauerly saghe say of þat syȝt,
So watȝ hit clene and cler and pure,
Þat precios perle þer hit watȝ pyȝt.

Pyȝt in perle, þat precios pyece
On wyþer half water com doun þe schore.
No gladder gome heþen into Grece
Þen I, quen ho on brymme wore.
Ho watȝ me nerre þen aunte or nece;
My joy forþy watȝ much þe more.
Ho profered me speche, þat special spece,
Enclynande lowe in wommon lore,
Caȝte of her coroun of grete tresore
And haylsed me wyth a lote lyȝte.
Wel watȝ me þat euer I watȝ bore
To sware þat swete in perleȝ pyȝte!

'O perle', quod I, 'in perleȝ pyȝt,
Art þou my perle þat I haf playned,
Regretted by myn one on nyȝte?
Much longeyng haf I for þe layned,
Syþen into gresse þou me aglyȝte.
Pensyf, payred, I am forpayned,
And þou in a lyf of lykyng lyȝte,
In Paradys erde, of stryf vnstrayned.

What wyrde hatȝ hyder my iuel vayned,
And don me in þys del and gret daunger?
Fro we in twynne wern towen and twayned,
I haf ben a joyleȝ juelere.'

That juel þenne in gemmeȝ gente
Vered vp her vyse wyth yȝen graye,
Set on hyr coroun of perle orient,
And soberly after þenne con ho say:
'Sir, ȝe haf your tale mysetente,
To say your perle is al awaye,
Þat is in cofer so comly clente
As in þis gardyn gracios gaye,
Hereinne to lenge for euer and play,
Þer mys nee mornyng com neuer nere.
Her were a forser for þe, in faye,
If þou were a gentyl jueler.

'Bot, jueler gente, if þou schal lose
Þy ioy for a gemme þat þe watȝ lef,
Me þynk þe put in a mad porpose,
And busyeȝ þe aboute a raysoun bref;
For þat þou lesteȝ watȝ bot a rose
Þat flowred and fayled as kynde hyt gef.
Now þurȝ kynde of þe kyste þat hyt con close
To a perle of prys hit is put in pref.
And þou hatȝ called þy wyrde a þef,
Þat oȝt of noȝt hatȝ mad þe cler;
Þou blameȝ þe bote of þy meschef,
Þou art no kynde jueler.'

A juel to me þen watȝ þys geste,
And iueleȝ wern hyr gentyl saweȝ.

'Iwyse', quod I, 'my blysfol beste,
My grete dystresse þou al todraweȝ.
To be excused I make requeste;
I trawed my perle don out of daweȝ.
Now haf I fonde hyt, I schal ma feste,
And wony wyth hyt in schyr wod-schaweȝ,
And loue my Lorde and al his laweȝ
Þat hatȝ me broȝt þys blys ner.
Now were I at yow byȝonde þise waweȝ,
I were a ioyful jueler.'

'Jueler', sayde þat gemme clene,
'Wy borde ȝe men? So madde ȝe be!
Þre wordeȝ hatȝ þou spoken at ene:
Vnavysed, for soþe, wern alle þre.
Þou ne woste in worlde quat on dotȝ mene;
Þy worde byfore þy wytte con fle.
Þou says þou traweȝ me in þis dene,
Bycawse þou may wyth yȝen me se;
Anoþer þou says, in þys countré
Þyself schal won wyth me ryȝt here;
Þe þrydde, to passe þys water fre --
Þat may no ioyfol jueler.

'I halde þat iueler lyttel to prayse
Þat leueȝ wel þat he seȝ wyth yȝe,
And much to blame and vncortayse
Þat leueȝ oure Lorde wolde make a lyȝe,

Þat lelly hyȝte your lyf to rayse,
Þaȝ fortune dyd your flesch to dyȝe.
Ȝe setten hys wordeȝ ful westernays
Þat leueȝ noþynk bot ȝe hit syȝe.
And þat is a poynt o sorquydryȝe,
Þat vche god mon may euel byseme,
To leue no tale be true to tryȝe
Bot þat hys one skyl may dem.

'Deme now þyself if þou con dayly
As man to God wordeȝ schulde heue.
Þou saytȝ þou schal won in þis bayly;
Me þynk þe burde fyrst aske leue,
And ȝet of graunt þou myȝteȝ fayle.
Þou wylneȝ ouer þys water to weue;
Er moste þou ceuer to oþer counsayle:
Þy corse in clot mot calder keue.
For hit watȝ forgarte at Paradys greue;
Oure ȝorefader hit con mysseȝeme.
Þurȝ drwry deth boȝ vch man dreue,
Er ouer þys dam hym Dryȝtyn deme.'

'Demeȝ þou me', quod I, 'my swete,
To dol agayn, þenne I dowyne.
Now haf I fonte þat I forlete,
Schal I efte forgo hit er euer I fyne?
Why schal I hit boþe mysse and mete?
My precios perle dotȝ me gret pyne.
What serueȝ tresor, bot gareȝ men grete
When he hit schal efte wyth teneȝ tyne?

Now rech I neuer for to declyne,
Ne how fer of folde þat man me fleme.
When I am partleȝ of perle myne,
Bot durande doel what may men deme?'

'Thow demeȝ noȝt bot doel-dystresse',
Þenne sayde þat wyȝt. 'Why dotȝ þou so
For dyne of doel of lureȝ lesse
Ofte mony mon forgos þe mo.
Þe oȝte better þyseluen blesse,
And loue ay God, in wele and wo,
For anger gayneȝ þe not a cresse.
Who nedeȝ schal þole, be not so þro.
For þoȝ þou daunce as any do,
Braundysch and bray þy braþeȝ breme,
When þou no fyrre may, to ne fro,
Þou moste abyde þat he schal deme.

'Deme Dryȝtyn, euer hym adyte,
Of þe way a fote ne wyl he wryþe.
Þy mendeȝ mounteȝ not a myte,
Þaȝ þou for sorȝe be neuer blyþe.
Stynt of þy strot and fyne to flyte,
And sech hys blyþe ful swefte and swyþe.
Þy prayer may hys pyté byte,
Þat mercy schal hyr crafteȝ kyþe.
Hys comforte may þy langour lyþe
And þy lureȝ of lyȝtly fleme;
For, marre oþer madde, morne and myþe,
Al lys in hym to dyȝt and deme.'

Thenne demed I to þat damyselle:
'Ne worþe no wrathþe vnto my Lorde,
If rapely I raue, spornande in spelle.
My herte watȝ al wyth mysse remorde,
As wallande water gotȝ out of welle.
I do me ay in hys myserecorde.
Rebuke me neuer wyth wordeȝ felle,
Þaȝ I forloyne, my dere endorde,
Bot kyþeȝ me kyndely your coumforde,
Pytosly þenkande vpon þysse:
Of care and me ȝe made acorde,
Þat er watȝ grounde of alle my blysse.

'My blysse, my bale, ȝe han ben boþe,
Bot much þe bygger ȝet watȝ my mon;
Fro þou watȝ wroken fro vch a woþe,
I wyste neuer quere my perle watȝ gon.
Now I hit se, now leþeȝ my loþe.
And, quen we departed, we wern at on;
God forbede we be now wroþe,
We meten so selden by stok oþer ston.
Þaȝ cortaysly ȝe carp con,
I am bot mol and manereȝ mysse.
Bot Crystes mersy and Mary and Jon,
Þise arn þe grounde of alle my blisse.

'In blysse I se þe blyþely blent,
And I a man al mornyf mate;
Ȝe take þeron ful lyttel tente,
Þaȝ I hente ofte harmeȝ hate.

Bot now I am here in your presente,
I wolde bysech, wythouten debate,
Ȝe wolde me say in sobre asente
What lyf ȝe lede erly and late.
For I am ful fayn þat your astate
Is worþen to worschyp and wele, iwysse;
Of alle my joy þe hyȝe gate,
Hit is in grounde of alle my blysse.'

'Now blysse, burne, mot þe bytyde',
Þen sayde þat lufsoum of lyth and lere,
'And welcum here to walk and byde,
For now þe speche is to me dere.
Maysterful mod and hyȝe pryde,
I hete þe, arn heterly hated here.
My Lorde ne loueȝ not for to chyde,
For meke arn alle þat woneȝ hym nere;
And when in hys place þou schal apere,
Be dep deuote in hol mekenesse.
My Lorde þe Lamb loueȝ ay such chere,
Þat is þe grounde of alle my blysse.

'A blysful lyf þou says I lede;
Þou woldeȝ knaw þerof þe stage.
Þow wost wel when þy perle con schede
I watȝ ful ȝong and tender of age;
Bot my Lorde þe Lombe þurȝ hys godhede,
He toke myself to hys maryage,
Corounde me quene in blysse to brede
In lenghe of dayeȝ þat euer schal wage;
And sesed in alle hys herytage
Hys lef is. I am holy hysse:
Hys prese, hys prys, and hys parage
Is rote and grounde of alle my blysse.'

'Blysful', quod I, 'may þys be trwe?
Dyspleseȝ not if I speke errour.
Art þou þe quene of heueneȝ blwe,
Þat al þys worlde schal do honour?
We leuen on Marye þat grace of grewe,
Þat ber a barne of vyrgyn flour;
Þe croune fro hyr quo moȝt remwe
Bot ho hir passed in sum fauour?
Now, for synglerty o hyr dousour,
We calle hyr Fenyx of Arraby,
Þat freles fleȝe of hyr fasor,
Lyk to þe Quen of cortaysye.'

'Cortayse Quen', þenne sayde þat gaye,
Knelande to grounde, folde vp hyr face,
'Makeleȝ Moder and myryest May,
Blessed bygynner of vch a grace!'
Þenne ros ho vp and con restay,
And speke me towarde in þat space:
'Sir, fele here porchaseȝ and fongeȝ pray,
Bot supplantoreȝ none wythinne þys place.
Þat emperise al heuenȝ hatȝ,
And vrþe and helle, in her bayly;
Of erytage ȝet non wyl ho chace,
For ho is Quen of cortaysye.

'The court of þe kyndom of God alyue
Hatȝ a property in hytself beyng:
Alle þat may þerinne aryue
Of alle þe reme is quen oþer kyng,

And neuer oþer ȝet schal depryue,
Bot vchon fayn of oþereȝ hafyng,
And wolde her corouneȝ wern worþe þo fyue,
If possyble were her mendyng.
Bot my Lady of quom Jesu con spryng,
Ho haldeȝ þe empyre ouer vus ful hyȝe;
And þat dyspleseȝ non of oure gyng,
For ho is Quene of cortaysye.

'Of courtaysye, as saytȝ Saynt Poule,
Al arn we membreȝ of Jesu Kryst:
As heued and arme and legg and naule
Temen to hys body ful trwe and tryste,
Ryȝt so is vch a Krysten sawle
A longande lym to þe Mayster of myste.
Þenne loke what hate oþer any gawle
Is tached oþer tyȝed þy lymmeȝ bytwyste.
Þy heued hatȝ nauþer greme ne gryste,
On arme oþer fynger þaȝ þou ber byȝe.
So fare we alle wyth luf and lyste
To kyng and quene by cortaysye.'

'Cortaysé', quod I, 'I leue,
And charyté grete, be yow among,
Bot my speche þat yow ne greue,
. . . . . . .
Þyself in heuen ouer hyȝ þou heue,
To make þe quen þat watȝ so ȝonge.
What more honour moȝte he acheue
Þat hade endured in worlde stronge,

And lyued in penaunce hys lyueȝ longe
Wyth bodyly bale hym blysse to byye?
What more worschyp moȝt he fonge
Þen corounde be kyng by cortaysé?

'That cortaysé is to fre of dede,
Ȝyf hyt be soth þat þou coneȝ saye.
Þou lyfed not two ȝer in oure þede;
Þou cowþeȝ neuer God nauþer plese ne pray,
Ne neuer nawþer Pater ne Crede;
And quen mad on þe fyrst day!
I may not traw, so God me spede,
Þat God wolde wryþe so wrange away.
Of countes, damysel, par ma fay,
Wer fayr in heuen to halde asstate,
Oþer elleȝ a lady of lasse aray;
Bot a quene! Hit is to dere a date.'

'Þer is no date of hys godnesse',
Þen sayde to me þat worþy wyȝte,
'For al is trawþe þat he con dresse,
And he may do noþynk bot ryȝt.
As Mathew meleȝ in your messe
In sothfol gospel of God almyȝt,
In sample he can ful grayþely gesse,
And lykneȝ hit to heuen lyȝte.
"My regne", he saytȝ, "is lyk on hyȝt
To a lorde þat hade a uyne, I wate.
Of tyme of ȝere þe terme watȝ tyȝt,
To labor vyne watȝ dere þe date.


'"Þat date of ȝere wel knawe þys hyne.
Þe lorde ful erly vp he ros
To hyre werkmen to hys vyne,
And fyndeȝ þer summe to hys porpos.
Into acorde þay con declyne
For a pené on a day, and forth þay gotȝ,
Wryþen and worchen and don gret pyne,
Keruen and caggen and man hit clos.
Aboute vnder þe lorde to marked totȝ,
And ydel men stande he fyndeȝ þerate.
'Why stande ȝe ydel?' he sayde to þos.
'Ne knawe ȝe of þis day no date?'

'"'Er date of daye hider arn we wonne',
So watȝ al samen her answar soȝt.
'We haf standen her syn ros þe sunne,
And no mon byddeȝ vus do ryȝt noȝt.'
'Gos into my vyne, dotȝ þat ȝe conne',
So sayde þe lorde, and made hit toȝt.
'What resonabele hyre be naȝt be runne
I yow pay in dede and þoȝte.'
Þay wente into þe vyne and wroȝte,
And al day þe lorde þus ȝede his gate,
And nw men to hys vyne he broȝte
Welneȝ wyl day watȝ passed date.

'"At þe date of day of euensonge,
On oure byfore þe sonne go doun,
He seȝ þer ydel men ful stronge
And sade to hem wyth sobre soun,

'Wy stonde ȝe ydel þise dayeȝ longe?'
Þay sayden her hyre watȝ nawhere boun.
'Gotȝ to my vyne, ȝemen ȝonge,
And wyrkeȝ and dotȝ þat at ȝe moun.'
Sone þe worlde bycom wel broun;
Þe sunne watȝ doun and hit wex late.
To take her hyre he mad sumoun;
Þe day watȝ al apassed date.

'"The date of þe daye þe lorde con knaw,
Called to þe reue: 'Lede, pay þe meyny.
Gyf hem þe hyre þat I hem owe,
And fyrre, þat non me may reprené,
Set hem alle vpon a rawe
And gyf vchon inlyche a peny.
Bygyn at þe laste þat standeȝ lowe,
Tyl to þe fyrst þat þou atteny.'
And þenne þe fyrst bygonne to pleny
And sayden þat þay hade trauayled sore:
'Þese bot on oure hem con streny;
Vus þynk vus oȝe to take more.

'"'More haf we serued, vus þynk so,
Þat suffred han þe dayeȝ hete,
Þenn þyse þat wroȝt not houreȝ two,
And þou dotȝ hem vus to counterfete.'
Þenne sayde þe lorde to on of þo:
'Frende, no waning I wyl þe ȝete;
Take þat is þyn owne, and go.
And I hyred þe for a peny agrete,

Quy bygynneȝ þou now to þrete?
Watȝ not a pené þy couenaunt þore?
Fyrre þen couenaunde is noȝt to plete.
Wy schalte þou þenne ask more?

'"'More, weþer louyly is me my gyfte,
To do wyth myn quat-so me lykeȝ?
Oþer elleȝ þyn yȝe to lyþer is lyfte
For I am goude and non byswykeȝ?'
Þus schal I", quod Kryste, "hit skyfte:
Þe laste schal be þe fyrst þat strykeȝ,
And þe fyrst þe laste, be he neuer so swyft;
For mony ben called, þaȝ fewe be mykeȝ."
Þus pore men her part ay pykeȝ,
Þaȝ þay com late and lyttel wore;
And þaȝ her sweng wyth lyttel atslykeȝ,
Þe merci of God is much þe more.

'More haf I of joye and blysse hereinne,
Of ladyschyp gret and lyueȝ blom,
Þen alle þe wyȝeȝ in þe worlde myȝt wynne
By þe way of ryȝt to aske dome.
Wheþer welnygh now I con bygynne --
In euentyde into þe vyne I come --
Fyrst of my hyre my Lorde con mynne:
I watȝ payed anon of al and sum.
Ȝet oþer þer werne þat toke more tom,
Þat swange and swat for long ȝore,
Þat ȝet of hyre noþynk þay nom,
Paraunter noȝt schal to-ȝere more.'


Then more I meled and sayde apert:
'Me þynk þy tale vnresounable.
Goddeȝ ryȝt is redy and euermore rert,
Oþer Holy Wryt is bot a fable.
In Sauter is sayd a verce ouerte
Þat spekeȝ a poynt determynable:
"Þou quyteȝ vchon as hys desserte,
Þou hyȝe kyng ay pretermynable."
Now he þat stod þe long day stable,
And þou to payment com hym byfore,
Þenne þe lasse in werke to take more able,
And euer þe lenger þe lasse, þe more.'

'Of more and lasse in Godeȝ ryche',
Þat gentyl sayde, 'lys no joparde,
For þer is vch mon payed inlyche,
Wheþer lyttel oþer much be hys rewarde;
For þe gentyl Cheuentayn is no chyche,
Queþer-so-euer he dele nesch oþer harde:
He laueȝ hys gyfteȝ as water of dyche,
Oþer goteȝ of golf þat neuer charde.
Hys fraunchyse is large þat euer dard
To Hym þat matȝ in synne rescoghe;
No blysse betȝ fro hem reparde,
For þe grace of God is gret inoghe.

'Bot now þou moteȝ, me for to mate,
Þat I my peny haf wrang tan here;
Þou sayȝ þat I þat com to late
Am not worþy so gret fere.

Where wysteȝ þou euer any bourne abate,
Euer so holy in hys prayere,
Þat he ne forfeted by sumkyn gate
Þe mede sumtyme of heueneȝ clere?
And ay þe ofter, þe alder þay were,
Þay laften ryȝt and wroȝten woghe.
Mercy and grace moste hem þen stere,
For þe grace of God is gret innoȝe.

'Bot innoghe of grace hatȝ innocent.
As sone as þay arn borne, by lyne
In þe water of babtem þay dyssente:
Þen arne þay boroȝt into þe vyne.
Anon þe day, wyth derk endente,
Þe niyȝt of deth dotȝ to enclyne:
Þat wroȝt neuer wrang er þenne þay wente,
Þe gentyle Lorde þenne payeȝ hys hyne.
Þay dyden hys heste, þay wern þereine;
Why schulde he not her labour alow,
Ȝys, and pay hem at þe fyrst fyne?
For þe grace of God is gret innoghe.

'Inoȝe is knawen þat mankyn grete
Fyrste watȝ wroȝt to blysse parfyt;
Oure forme fader hit con forfete
Þurȝ an apple þat he vpon con byte.
Al wer we dampned for þat mete
To dyȝe in doel out of delyt
And syþen wende to helle hete,
Þerinne to won wythoute respyt.
Bot þeron com a bote astyt.
Ryche blod ran on rode so roghe,

And wynne water þen at þat plyt:
Þe grace of God wex gret innoghe.

'Innoghe þer wax out of þat welle,
Blod and water of brode wounde.
Þe blod vus boȝt fro bale of helle
And delyuered vus of þe deth secounde;
Þe water is baptem, þe soþe to telle,
Þat folȝed þe glayue so grymly grounde,
Þat wascheȝ away þe gylteȝ felle
Þat Adam wyth inne deth vus drounde.
Now is þer noȝt in þe worlde rounde
Bytwene vus and blysse bot þat he wythdroȝ,
And þat is restored in sely stounde;
And þe grace of God is gret innogh.

'Grace innogh þe mon may haue
Þat synneȝ þenne new, ȝif hym repente,
Bot wyth sorȝ and syt he mot hit craue,
And byde þe payne þerto is bent.
Bot resoun of ryȝt þat con not raue
Saueȝ euermore þe innossent;
Hit is a dom þat neuer God gaue,
Þat euer þe gyltleȝ schulde be schente.
Þe gyltyf may contryssyoun hente
And be þurȝ mercy to grace þryȝt;
Bot he to gyle þat neuer glente
And inoscente is saf and ryȝte.


'Ryȝt þus I knaw wel in þis cas
Two men to saue is god by skylle:
Þe ryȝtwys man schal se hys face,
Þe harmleȝ haþel schal com hym tylle.
Þe Sauter hyt satȝ þus in a pace:
"Lorde, quo schal klymbe þy hyȝ hylle,
Oþer rest wythinne þy holy place?"
Hymself to onsware he is not dylle:
"Hondelyngeȝ harme þat dyt not ille,
Þat is of hert boþe clene and lyȝt,
Þer schal hys step stable stylle":
Þe innosent is ay saf by ryȝt.

'The ryȝtwys man also sertayn
Aproche he schal þat proper pyle,
Þat takeȝ not her lyf in vayne,
Ne glauereȝ her nieȝbor wyth no gyle.
Of þys ryȝtwys saȝ Salamon playn
How Koyntise onoure con aquyle;
By wayeȝ ful streȝt ho con hym strayn,
And scheued hym þe rengne of God awhyle,
As quo says, "Lo, ȝon louely yle!
Þou may hit wynne if þou be wyȝte."
Bot, hardyly, wythoute peryle,
Þe innosent is ay saue by ryȝte.

'Anende ryȝtwys men ȝet saytȝ a gome,
Dauid in Sauter, if euer ȝe syȝ hit:
"Lorde, Þy seruaunt draȝ neuer to dome,
For non lyuyande to þe is justyfyet."

Forþy to corte quen þou schal com
Þer alle oure causeȝ schal be tryed,
Alegge þe ryȝt, þou may be innome,
By þys ilke spech I haue asspyed;
Bot he on rode þat blody dyed,
Delfully þurȝ hondeȝ þryȝt,
Gyue þe to passe, when þou arte tryed,
By innocens and not by ryȝte.

'Ryȝtwysly quo con rede,
He loke on bok and be awayed
How Jesus hym welke in areþede,
And burneȝ her barneȝ vnto hym brayde.
For happe and hele þat fro hym ȝede
To touch her chylder þay fayr hym prayed.
His dessypeleȝ wyth blame let be hem bede
And wyth her resouneȝ ful fele restayed.
Jesus þenne hem swetely sayde:
"Do way, let chylder vnto me tyȝt.
To suche is heuenryche arayed":
Þe innocent is ay saf by ryȝt.

'Iesus con calle to hym hys mylde,
And sayde hys ryche no wyȝ myȝt wynne
Bot he com þyder ryȝt as a chylde,
Oþer elleȝ neuermore com þerinne.
Harmleȝ, trwe, and vndefylde,
Wythouten mote oþer mascle of sulpande synne,

Quen such þer cnoken on þe bylde,
Tyt schal hem men þe ȝate vnpynne.
Þer is þe blys þat con not blynne
Þat þe jueler soȝte þurȝ perré pres,
And solde alle hys goud, boþe wolen and lynne,
To bye hym a perle watȝ mascelleȝ.

'This makelleȝ perle, þat boȝt is dere,
Þe joueler gef fore alle hys god,
Is lyke þe reme of heuenesse clere:
So sayde þe Fader of folde and flode;
For hit is wemleȝ, clene, and clere,
And endeleȝ rounde, and blyþe of mode,
And commune to alle þat ryȝtwys were.
Lo, euen inmyddeȝ my breste hit stode.
My Lorde þe Lombe, þat schede hys blode,
He pyȝt hit þere in token of pes.
I rede þe forsake þe worlde wode
And porchace þy perle maskelles.'

'O maskeleȝ perle in perleȝ pure,
Þat bereȝ', quod I, 'þe perle of prys,
Quo formed þe þy fayre fygure?
Þat wroȝt þy wede, he watȝ ful wys.
Þy beauté com neuer of nature;
Pymalyon paynted neuer þy vys,
Ne Arystotel nawþer by hys lettrure
Of carped þe kynde þese propertéȝ.
Þy colour passeȝ þe flour-de-lys;
Þyn angel-hauyng so clene corteȝ.
Breue me, bryȝt, quat kyn offys
Bereȝ þe perle so maskelleȝ?'

'My makeleȝ Lambe þat al may bete',
Quod scho, 'my dere destyné,
Me ches to hys make, alþaȝ vnmete
Sumtyme semed þat assemblé.
When I wente fro yor worlde wete,
He calde me to hys bonerté:
"Cum hyder to me, my lemman swete,
For mote ne spot is non in þe."
He gef me myȝt and als bewté;
In hys blod he wesch my wede on dese,
And coronde clene in vergynté,
And pyȝt me in perleȝ maskelleȝ.'

'Why, maskelleȝ byrd þat bryȝt con flambe,
Þat reiatéȝ hatȝ so ryche and ryf,
Quat kyn þyng may be þat Lambe
Þat þe wolde wedde vnto hys vyf?
Ouer alle oþer so hyȝ þou clambe
To lede wyth hym so ladyly lyf.
So mony a comly on-vunder cambe
For Kryst han lyued in much stryf;
And þou con alle þo dere out dryf
And fro þat maryag al oþer depres,
Al only þyself so stout and styf,
A makeleȝ may and maskelleȝ.'

'Maskelles', quod þat myry quene,
'Vnblemyst I am, wythouten blot,
And þat may I wyth mensk menteene;
Bot "makeleȝ quene" þenne sade I not.

Þe Lambes vyueȝ in blysse we bene,
A hondred and forty fowre þowsande flot,
As in þe Apocalyppeȝ hit is sene;
Sant John hem syȝ al in a knot.
On þe hyl of Syon, þat semly clot,
Þe apostel hem segh in gostly drem
Arayed to þe weddyng in þat hyl-coppe,
Þe nwe cyté o Jerusalem.

'Of Jerusalem I in speche spelle.
If þou wyl knaw what kyn he be,
My Lombe, my Lorde, my dere juelle,
My ioy, my blys, my lemman fre,
Þe profete Ysaye of hym con melle
Pitously of hys debonerté:
"Þat gloryous gyltleȝ þat mon con quelle
Wythouten any sake of felonye,
As a schep to þe slaȝt þer lad watȝ he;
And, as lombe þat clypper in hande nem,
So closed he hys mouth fro vch query,
Quen Jueȝ hym iugged in Jerusalem."

'In Jerusalem watȝ my lemman slayn
And rent on rode wyth boyeȝ bolde.
Al oure baleȝ to bere ful bayn,
He toke on hymself oure careȝ colde.
Wyth boffeteȝ watȝ hys face flayn
Þat watȝ so fayr on to byholde.

For synne he set hymself in vayn,
Þat neuer hade non hymself to wolde.
For vus he lette hym flyȝe and folde
And brede vpon a bostwys bem;
As meke as lomp þat no playnt tolde
For vus he swalt in Jerusalem.

'In Jerusalem, Jordan, and Galalye,
Þer as baptysed þe goude Saynt Jon,
His wordeȝ acorded to Ysaye.
When Jesus con to hym warde gon.
He sayde of hym þys professye:
"Lo, Godeȝ Lombe as trwe as ston,
Þat dotȝ away þe synneȝ dryȝe
Þat alle þys worlde hatȝ wroȝt vpon.
Hymself ne wroȝt neuer ȝet non;
Wheþer on hymself he con al clem.
Hys generacyoun quo recen con,
Þat dyȝed for vus in Jerusalem?"

'In Ierusalem þus my lemman swete
Twyeȝ for lombe watȝ taken þare,
By trw recorde of ayþer prophete,
For mode so meke and al hys fare.
Þe þryde tyme is þerto ful mete,
In Apokalypeȝ wryten ful ȝare;
Inmydeȝ þe trone, þere saynteȝ sete,
Þe apostel Iohn hym saȝ as bare,
Lesande þe boke with leueȝ sware
Þere seuen syngnetteȝ wern sette in seme;
And at þat syȝt vche douth con dare
In helle, in erþe, and Jerusalem.

'Thys Jerusalem Lombe hade neuer pechche
Of oþer huee bot quyt jolyf
Þat mot ne masklle moȝt on streche,
For wolle quyte so ronk and ryf.
Forþy vche saule þat hade neuer teche
Is to þat Lombe a worthyly wyf;
And þaȝ vch day a store he feche,
Among vus commeȝ nouþer strot ne stryf;
Bot vchon enlé we wolde were fyf --
Þe mo þe myryer, so God me blesse.
In compayny gret our luf con þryf
In honour more and neuer þe lesse.

'Lasse of blysse may non vus bryng
Þat beren þys perle vpon oure bereste,
For þay of mote couþe neuer mynge
Of spotleȝ perleȝ þat beren þe creste.
Alþaȝ oure corses in clotteȝ clynge,
And ȝe remen for rauþe wythouten reste,
We þurȝoutly hauen cnawyng;
Of on dethe ful oure hope is drest.
Þe Lombe vus gladeȝ, oure care is kest;
He myrþeȝ vus alle at vch a mes.
Vchoneȝ blysse is breme and beste,
And neuer oneȝ honour ȝet neuer þe les.

'Lest les þou leue my tale farande,
In Appocalyppece is wryten in wro:

"I seghe", says John, "þe Loumbe hym stande
On þe mount of Syon ful þryuen and þro,
And wyth hym maydenneȝ and hundreþe þowsande,
And fowre and forty þowsande mo.
On alle her forhedeȝ wryten I fande
Þe Lombeȝ nome, hys Fadereȝ also.
A hue from heuen I herde þoo,
Lyk flodeȝ fele laden runnen on resse,
And as þunder þroweȝ in torreȝ blo,
Þat lote, I leue, watȝ neuer þe les.

'"Nauþeles, þaȝ hit schowted scharpe,
And ledden loude alþaȝ hit were,
A note ful nwe I herde hem warpe,
To lysten þat watȝ ful lufly dere.
As harporeȝ harpen in her harpe,
Þat nwe songe þay songen ful cler,
In sounande noteȝ a gentyl carpe;
Ful fayre þe modeȝ þay fonge in fere.
Ryȝt byfore Godeȝ chayere
And þe fowre besteȝ þat hym obes
And þe aldermen so sadde of chere,
Her songe þay songen neuer þe les.

'"Nowþelese non watȝ neuer so quoynt,
For alle þe crafteȝ þat euer þay knewe,
Þat of þat songe myȝt synge a poynt,
Bot þat meyny þe Lombe þat swe;
For þay arn boȝt fro þe vrþe aloynte
As newe fryt to God ful due,
And to þe gentyl Lombe hit arn anioynt,
As lyk to hymself of lote and hwe;

For neuer lesyng ne tale vntrwe
Ne towched her tonge for no dysstresse.
Þat moteles meyny may neuer remwe
Fro þat maskeleȝ mayster, neuer þe les."'

'Neuer þe les let be my þonc',
Quod I, 'My perle, þaȝ I appose;
I schulde not tempte þy wyt so wlonc,
To Krysteȝ chambre þat art ichose.
I am bot mokke and mul among,
And þou so ryche a reken rose,
And bydeȝ here by þys blysful bonc
Þer lyueȝ lyste may neuer lose.
Now, hynde, þat sympelnesse coneȝ enclose,
I wolde þe aske a þynge expresse,
And þaȝ I be bustwys as a blose,
Let my bone vayl neuerþelese.

'Neuerþelese cler I yow bycalle,
If ȝe con se hyt be to done;
As þou art gloryous wythouten galle,
Wythnay þou neuer my ruful bone.
Haf ȝe no woneȝ in castel-walle,
Ne maner þer ȝe may mete and won?
Þou telleȝ me of Jerusalem þe ryche ryalle,
Þer Dauid dere watȝ dyȝt on trone,
Bot by þyse holteȝ hit con not hone,
Bot in Judee hit is, þat noble note.
As ȝe ar maskeleȝ vnder mone,
Your woneȝ schulde be wythouten mote.


'Þys moteleȝ meyny þou coneȝ of mele,
Of þousandeȝ þryȝt so gret a route,
A gret ceté, for ȝe arn fele,
Yow byhod haue, wythouten doute.
So cumly a pakke of joly juele
Wer euel don schulde lyȝ þeroute,
And by þyse bonkeȝ þer I con gele
I se no bygyng nawhere aboute.
I trowe alone ȝe lenge and loute
To loke on þe glory of þys gracious gote.
If þou hatȝ oþer bygyngeȝ stoute,
Now tech me to þat myry mote.'

'That mote þou meneȝ in Judy londe',
Þat specyal spyce þen to me spakk,
'Þat is þe cyté þat þe Lombe con fon
To soffer inne sor for maneȝ sake,
Þe olde Jerusalem to vnderstonde;
For þere þe olde gulte watȝ don to slake.
Bot þe nwe, þat lyȝt of Godeȝ sonde,
Þe apostel in Apocalyppce in theme con take.
Þe Lompe þer wythouten spotteȝ blake
Hatȝ feryed þyder hys fayre flote;
And as hys flok is wythouten flake,
So is hys mote wythouten moote.

'Of motes two to carpe clene,
And Jerusalem hyȝt boþe nawþeles --
Þat nys to yow no more to mene
Bot "ceté of God", oþer "syȝt of pes":
In þat on oure pes watȝ mad at ene;
Wyth payne to suffer þe Lombe hit chese;

In þat oþer is noȝt bot pes to glene
Þat ay schal laste wythouten reles.
Þat is þe borȝ þat we to pres
Fro þat oure flesch be layd to rote,
Þer glory and blysse schal euer encres
To þe meyny þat is wythouten mote.'

'Moteleȝ may so meke and mylde',
Þen sayde I to þat lufly flor,
'Bryng me to þat bygly bylde
And let me se þy blysful bor.'
Þat schene sayde: 'Þat God wyl schylde;
Þou may not enter wythinne hys tor,
Bot of þe Lombe I haue þe aquylde
For a syȝt þerof þurȝ gret fauor.
Vtwyth to se þat clene cloystor
Þou may, bot inwyth not a fote;
To strech in þe strete þou hatȝ no vygour,
Bot þou wer clene wythouten mote.

'If I þis mote þe schal vnhyde,
Bow vp towarde þys borneȝ heued,
And I anendeȝ þe on þis syde
Schal sve, tyl þou to a hil be veued.'
Þen wolde I no lenger byde,
Bot lurked by launceȝ so lufly leued,
Tyl on a hyl þat I asspyed
And blusched on þe burghe, as I forth dreued,
Byȝonde þe brok fro me warde keued,
Þat schyrrer þen sunne wyth schafteȝ schon.

In þe Apokalypce is þe fasoun preued,
As deuyseȝ hit þe apostel Jhon.

As John þe apostel hit syȝ wyth syȝt,
I syȝe þat cyty of gret renoun,
Jerusalem so nwe and ryally dyȝt,
As hit was lyȝt fro þe heuen adoun.
Þe borȝ watȝ al of brende golde bryȝt
As glemande glas burnist broun,
Wyth gentyl gemmeȝ an-vnder pyȝt
Wyth banteleȝ twelue on basyng boun,
Þe foundementeȝ twelue of riche tenoun;
Vch tabelment watȝ a serlypeȝ ston;
As derely deuyseȝ þis ilk toun
In Apocalyppeȝ þe apostel John.

As John þise stoneȝ in writ con nemme,
I knew þe name after his tale:
Jasper hyȝt þe fyrst gemme
Þat I on þe fyrst basse con wale:
He glente grene in þe lowest hemme;
Saffer helde þe secounde stale;
Þe calsydoyne þenne wythouten wemme
In þe þryd table con purly pale;
Þe emerade þe furþe so grene of scale;
Þe sardonyse þe fyfþe ston;
Þe sexte þe rybé he con hit wale
In þe Apocalyppce, þe apostel John.

Ȝet joyned John þe crysolyt
Þe seuenþe gemme in fundament;

Þe aȝtþe þe beryl cler and quyt;
Þe topasye twynne-hew þe nente endent;
Þe crysopase þe tenþe is tyȝt;
Þe jacynght þe enleuenþe gent;
Þe twelfþe, þe gentyleste in vch a plyt,
Þe amatyst purpre wyth ynde blente;
Þe wal abof þe bantels bent
O jasporye, as glas þat glysnande schon;
I knew hit by his deuysement
In þe Apocalyppeȝ, þe apostel John.

As John deuysed ȝet saȝ I þare:
Þise twelue degres wern brode and stayre;
Þe cyté stod abof ful sware,
As longe as brode as hyȝe ful fayre;
Þe streteȝ of golde as glasse al bare,
Þe wal of jasper þat glent as glayre;
Þe woneȝ wythinne enurned ware
Wyth alle kynneȝ perré þat moȝt repayre.
Þenne helde vch sware of þis manayre
Twelue forlonge space, er euer hit fon,
Of heȝt, of brede, of lenþe to cayre,
For meten hit syȝ þe apostel John.

As John hym wryteȝ ȝet more I syȝe:
Vch pane of þat place had þre ȝateȝ;
So twelue in poursent I con asspye,
Þe portaleȝ pyked of rych plateȝ,

And vch ȝate of a margyrye,
A parfyt perle þat neuer fateȝ.
Vchon in scrypture a name con plye
Of Israel barneȝ, folewande her dateȝ,
Þat is to say, as her byrþ-whateȝ:
Þe aldest ay fyrst þeron watȝ done.
Such lyȝt þer lemed in alle þe strateȝ
Hem nedde nawþer sunne ne mone.

Of sunne ne mone had þay no nede;
Þe self God watȝ her lombe-lyȝt,
Þe Lombe her lantyrne, wythouten drede;
Þurȝ hym blysned þe borȝ al bryȝt.
Þurȝ woȝe and won my lokyng ȝede,
For sotyle cler noȝt lette no lyȝt.
Þe hyȝe trone þer moȝt ȝe hede
Wyth alle þe apparaylmente vmbepyȝte,
As John þe appostel in termeȝ tyȝte;
Þe hyȝe Godeȝ self hit set vpone.
A reuer of þe trone þer ran outryȝte
Watȝ bryȝter þen boþe þe sunne and mo

Sunne ne mone schon neuer so swete
As þat foysoun flode out of þat flet;
Swyþe hit swange þurȝ vch a strete
Wythouten fylþe oþer galle oþer glet.
Kyrk þerinne watȝ non ȝete,
Chapel ne temple þat euer watȝ set;
Þe Almyȝty watȝ her mynster mete,
Þe Lombe þe sakerfyse þer to refet.

Þe ȝateȝ stoken watȝ neuer ȝet,
Bot euermore vpen at vche a lone;
Þer entreȝ non to take reset
Þat bereȝ any spot an-vnder mone.

The mone may þerof acroche no myȝte;
To spotty ho is, of body to grym,
And also þer ne is neuer nyȝt.
What schulde þe mone þer compas clym
And to euen wyth þat worþly lyȝt
Þat schyneȝ vpon þe brokeȝ brym?
Þe planeteȝ arn in to pouer a plyȝt,
And þe self sunne ful fer to dym.
Aboute þat water arn tres ful schym,
Þat twelue fryteȝ of lyf con bere ful sone;
Twelue syþeȝ on ȝer þay beren ful frym,
And renowleȝ nwe in vche a mone.

An-vnder mone so great merwayle
No fleschly hert ne myȝt endeure,
As quen I blusched vpon þat bayle,
So ferly þerof watȝ þe fasure.
I stod as stylle as dased quayle
For ferly of þat frelich fygure,
Þat felde I nawþer reste ne trauayle,
So watȝ I rauyste wyth glymme pure.
For I dar say wyth conciens sure,
Hade bodyly burne abiden þat bone,
Þaȝ alle clerkeȝ hym hade in cure,
His lyf were loste an-vnder mone.

Ryȝt as þe maynful mone con rys
Er þenne þe day-glem dryue al doun,
So sodanly on a wonder wyse
I watȝ war of a prosessyoun.
Þis noble cité of ryche enpryse
Watȝ sodanly ful wythouten sommoun
Of such vergyneȝ in þe same gyse
Þat watȝ my blysful an-vnder croun:
And coronde wern alle of þe same fasoun,
Depaynt in perleȝ and wedeȝ qwyte;
In vchoneȝ breste watȝ bounden boun
Þe blysful perle wyth gret delyt.

Wyth gret delyt þay glod in fere
On golden gateȝ þat glent as glasse;
Hundreth þowsandeȝ I wot þer were,
And alle in sute her liuréȝ wasse;
Tor to knaw þe gladdest chere.
Þe Lombe byfore con proudly passe
Wyth horneȝ seuen of red golde cler;
As praysed perleȝ his wedeȝ wasse.
Towarde þe throne þay trone a tras.
Þaȝ þay wern fele, no pres in plyt,
Bot mylde as maydeneȝ seme at mas,
So droȝ þay forth wyth gret delyt.

Delyt þat hys come encroched
To much hit were of for to melle
Þise aldermen, quen he aproched,
Grouelyng to his fete þay felle.

Legyounes of aungeleȝ togeder uoched
Þer kesten ensens of swete smelle.
Þen glory and gle watȝ nwe abroched;
Al songe to loue þat gay juelle.
Þe steuen moȝt stryke þurȝ þe vrþe to helle
Þat þe Vertues of heuen of joye endyte.
To loue þe Lombe his meyny in melle
Iwysse I laȝt a gret delyt.

Delit þe Lombe for to deuise
Wyth much meruayle in mynde went.
Best watȝ he, blyþest, and moste to pryse,
Þat euer I herde of speche spent;
So worþly whyt wern wedeȝ hys,
His lokeȝ symple, hymself so gent.
Bot a wounde ful wyde and weete con wyse
Anende hys hert, þurȝ hyde torente.
Of his quyte syde his blod outsprent.
Alas, þoȝt I, who did þat spyt?
Ani breste for bale aȝt haf forbrent
Er he þerto hade had delyt.

The Lombe delyt non lyste to wene.
Þaȝ he were hurt and wounde hade,
In his sembelaunt watȝ neuer sene,
So wern his glenteȝ gloryous glade.
I loked among his meyny schene
How þay wyth lyf wern laste and lade;
Þen saȝ I þer my lyttel quene
Þat I wende had standen by me in sclade.
Lorde, much of mirþe watȝ þat ho made
Among her fereȝ þat watȝ so quyt!
Þat syȝt me gart to þenk to wade
For luf-longyng in gret delyt.

Delyt me drof in yȝe and ere,
My maneȝ mynde to maddyng malte;
Quen I seȝ my frely, I wolde be þere,
Byȝonde þe water þaȝ ho were walte.
I þoȝt þat noþyng myȝt me dere
To fech me bur and take me halte,
And to start in þe strem schulde non me stere,
To swymme þe remnaunt, þaȝ I þer swalte.
Bot of þat munt I watȝ bitalt;
When I schulde start in þe strem astraye,
Out of þat caste I watȝ bycalt:
Hit watȝ not at my Prynceȝ paye.

Hit payed hym not þat I so flonc
Ouer meruelous mereȝ, so mad arayde.
Of raas þaȝ I were rasch and ronk,
Ȝet rapely þerinne I watȝ restrayed.
For, ryȝt as I sparred vnto þe bonc,
Þat brathþe out of my drem me brayde.
Þen wakned I in þat erber wlonk;
My hede vpon þat hylle watȝ layde
Þer as my perle to grounde strayd.
I raxled, and fel in gret affray,
And, sykyng, to myself I sayd,
'Now al be to þat Prynces paye'.

Me payed ful ille to be outfleme
So sodenly of þat fayre regioun,
Fro alle þo syȝteȝ so quyke and queme.
A longeyng heuy me strok in swone,

And rewfully þenne I con to reme:
'O perle', quod I, 'of rych renoun,
So watȝ hit me dere þat þou con deme
In þys veray avysyoun!
If hit be ueray and soth sermoun
Þat þou so stykeȝ in garlande gay,
So wel is me in þys doel-doungoun
Þat þou art to þat Prynseȝ paye.'

To þat Prynceȝ paye hade I ay bente,
And ȝerned no more þen watȝ me gyuen,
And halden me þer in trwe entent,
As þe perle me prayed þat watȝ so þryuen,
As helde, drawen to Goddeȝ present,
To mo of his mysterys I hade ben dryuen;
Bot ay wolde man of happe more hente
Þen moȝte by ryȝt vpon hem clyuen.
Þerfore my ioye watȝ sone toriuen,
And I kaste of kytheȝ þat lasteȝ aye.
Lorde, mad hit arn þat agayn þe stryuen,
Oþer proferen þe oȝt agayn þy paye.

To pay þe Prince oþer sete saȝte
Hit is ful eþe to þe god Krystyin;
For I haf founden hym, boþe day and naȝte,
A God, a Lorde, a frende ful fyin.
Ouer þis hyul þis lote I laȝte,
For pyty of my perle enclyin,
And syþen to God I hit bytaȝte
In Krysteȝ dere blessyng and myn,

Þat in þe forme of bred and wyn
Þe preste vus scheweȝ vch a daye.
He gef vus to be his homly hyne
Ande precious perleȝ vnto his pay.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

Missing image

PEARL. Pearls are calcareous concretions of peculiar lustre, produced by certain molluscs, and valued as objects of personal ornament. The experience of pearl-fishers shows that those shells which are irregular in shape and stunted in growth, or which bear excrescences, or are honeycombed by boring parasites, are those most likely to yield pearls.

The substance of a pearl is essentially the same as that which lines the interior of many shells and is known as "mother-ofpearl." Sir D. Brewster first showed that the iridescence of this substance was an optical phenomenon due to the interference of rays of light reflected from microscopic corrugations of the surface - an effect which may be imitated by artificial striations on a suitable medium. When the inner laminated portion of a nacreous shell is digested in acid the calcareous layers are dissolved away, leaving a very delicate membranous pellicle, which, as shown by Dr Carpenter, may retain the iridescence as long as it is undisturbed, but which loses it when pressed or stretched.

It is obvious that if a pearl presents a perfectly spherical form it must have remained loose in the substance of the muscles or other soft tissues of the mollusc. Frequently, however, the pearl becomes cemented to the interior of the shell, the point of attachment thus interfering with its symmetry. In this position it may receive successive nacreous deposits, which ultimately form a pearl of hemispherical shape, so that when cut from the shell it may be flat on one side and convex on the other, forming what jewelers know as a "perle bouton." In the course of growth the pearl may become involved in the general deposit of motherof-pearl, and be ultimately buried in the substance of the shell. It has thus happened that fine pearls have occasionally been unexpectedly brought to light in cutting up mother-of-pearl in the workshop.

When a pearl oyster is attacked by a boring parasite the mollusc protects itself by depositing nacreous matter at the point of invasion, thus forming a hollow body of irregular shape known as a "blister pearl." Hollow warty pearl is sometimes termed in trade "coq de perle." Solid pearls of irregular form are often produced by deposition on rough objects, such as small fragments of wood, and these, and in fact all irregular-shaped pearls, are termed "perles baroques," or "barrok pearls." It appears that the Romans in the period of the Decline restricted the name unio to the globular pearl, and termed the baroque margaritum. It was fashionable in the 16th and r 7th centuries to mount curiously shaped baroques in gold and enamel so as to form ornamental objects of grotesque character. A valuable collection of such mounted pearls by Dinglinger is preserved in the Green vaults at Dresden.

A pearl of the first water should possess, in jewelers' language, a perfect "skin" and a fine "orient"; that is to say, it must be of delicate texture, free from speck or flaw, and of clear almost translucent white colour, with a subdued iridescent sheen. It should also be perfectly spherical, or, if not, of a symmetrical pear-shape. On removing the outer layer of a pearl the subjacent surface is generally dull, like a dead fish-eye, but it occasionally happens that a poor pearl encloses a "lively kernel," and may therefore be improved by careful peeling. The most perfect pearl in existence is said to be one, known as "La Pellegrina," in the museum of Zosima in Moscow; it is a perfectly globular Indian pearl of singular beauty, weighing 28 carats. The largest known pearl is one of irregular shape in the Beresford Hope collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum. This magnificent pearl weighs 3 oz., has a circumference of 42 in., and is surmounted by an enamelled and jewelled gold crown, forming a pendant of great value.

Pearl Fisheries

The ancients obtained their pearls chiefly from India and the Persian Gulf, but at the present time they are also procured from the Sulu seas, the coast of Australia, the shores of Central America and some of the South Pacific Islands. The ancient fisheries of Ceylon (Taprobane) are situated in the Gulf of Manaar, the fishing-banks lying from 6 to 8 m. off the western shore, a little to the'south of the isle of Manaar. The Tinnevelly fishery is on the Madras side of the strait, near Tuticorin. These Indian fishing-grounds are under the control of government inspectors, who regulate the fisheries. The oysters yield the best pearls at about four years of age. Fishing generally commences in the second week in March, and lasts for from four to six weeks, according to the season. The boats are grouped in fleets of from sixty to seventy, and start usually at midnight so as to reach the oyster-banks at sunrise. Each boat generally carries ten divers. On reaching the bank a signal-gun is fired, and diving commences. A stone weighing about 40 lb is attached to the cord by which the diver is let down. The divers work in pairs, one man diving while the other watches the signal-cord, drawing up the sink-stone first, then hauling up the baskets of oysters, and finally raising the diver himself. On an average the divers remain under water from fifty to eighty seconds, though exceptional instances are cited of men remaining below for as long as six minutes. After resting for a minute or two at the surface, the diver descends again; and so on, until exhausted, when he comes on board and watches the rope, while his comrade relieves him as diver. The native descends naked, carrying only a girdle for the support of the basket in which he places the pearl oysters. In his submarine work the diver makes skilful use of his toes. To arm himself against the attacks of the sharks and other fishes which infest the Indian waters he carries spikes of ironwood; and the genuine Indian diver never descends without the incantations of shark-charmers, one of whom accompanies the boat while others remain on shore. As a rule the diver is a shortlived man.

The diving continues from sunrise to about noon, when a gun is fired. On the arrival of the fleet at shore the divers carry their oysters to a shed, where they are made up into four heaps, one of which is taken by the diver. The oysters are then sold by auction in lots of 1000 each. The pearls, after removal from the dead oysters, are "classed" by passing through a number of small brass colanders, known as "baskets," the holes in the successive vessels being smaller and smaller. Having been sized in this way, they are sorted as to colour, weighed and valued.

Since the days of the Macedonians pearl-fishing has been carried on in the Persian Gulf. It is said that the oyster-beds extend along the entire Arabian coast of the gulf, but the most important are on sandbanks off the islands of Bahrein. The chief centre of the trade is the port of Lingah. Most of the products of this fishery are known as "Bombay pearls," from the fact that many of the best are sold there. The shells usually present a dark colour about the edges, like that of "smoked pearl." The yellow-tinted pearls are sent chiefly to Bombay, while the whitest go to Bagdad. Very small pearls, much below a pea in size, are generally known as "seed-pearls," and these are valued in India and China as constituents of certain electuaries, while occasionally they are calcined for chunam, or lime, used with betel as a masticatory. There is a small pearl-fishery near Karachi on the coast of Bombay.

From the time of the Ptolemies pearl-fishing has been prosecuted along the coast of the Red Sea, especially in the neighbourhood of Jiddah and Koseir. This fishery is now insignificant, but the Arabs still obtain from this district a quantity of mother-of-pearl shells, which are shipped from Alexandria, and come into the market as "Egyptians." Very fine pearls are obtained from the Sulu Archipelago, on the north-east of Borneo. The mother-of-pearl shells from the Sulu seas are characterized by a yellow colour on the border and back, which unfits them for many ornamental purposes. Pearl oysters are also abundant in the seas around the Aru Islands to the south-west of New Guinea. From Labuan a good many pearl-shells are occasionally sent to Singapore. They are also obtained from the neighbourhood of Timor, and from New Caledonia. The pearl oyster occurs throughout the Pacific, mostly in the clear water of the lagoons within the atolls, though fine shells are also found in deep water outside the coral reefs. The Polynesian divers do not employ sink-stones, and the women are said to be more skilful than the men. They anoint their bodies with oil before diving. Fine pearl-shells are obtained from Navigators' Islands, the Society Islands, the Low Archipelago or Paumota Isles and the Gambier Islands. Many of the Gambier pearls present a bronzy tint.

Pearl-fishing is actively prosecuted along the western coast of Central America, especially in the Gulf of California, and to a less extent around the Pearl Islands in the Bay of Panama. The fishing-grounds are in water about 40 ft. deep, and the season lasts for four months. An ordinary fishing-party expects to obtain about three tons of shells per day, and it is estimated that one shell in a thousand contains a pearl. The pearls are shipped in barrels from San Francisco and Panama. Some pearls of rare beauty have been obtained from the Bay of Mulege, near Los Coyetes, in the gulf of California; and in 1882 a pearl of 75 carats, the largest on record from this district, was found near La Paz in California. The coast of Guayaquil also yields pearls. Columbus found that pearl-fishing was carried on in his time in the Gulf of Mexico, and pearls are still obtained from the Caribbean Sea. In the West Indies the best pearls are obtained from St Thomas and from the island of Margarita, off the coast of Venezuela. From Margarita Philip II. of Spain is said to have obtained in 1579 a famous pearl of 250 carats.

Of late years good pearls have been found in Shark's Bay, on the coast of West Australia, especially in an inlet termed Useless Harbour. Mother-of-pearl shells are also fished at many other points along the western coast, between the 15th and 25th parallels of south latitude. An important pearl-fishery is also established in Torres Strait and on the coast of Queensland. The shells occur in water from four to six fathoms deep, and the divers are generally Malays and Papuans, though sometimes native Australians. On the western coast of Australia the pearl-shells are obtained by dredging rather than by diving. Pearl-shells have also been found at Port Darwin and in Oakley Creek, New Zealand.

River pearls are produced by the species of Unio and Anodonta, especially by Unio margaritiferus. These species belong to the family Unionidae, order Eulamellebranchia. They inhabit the mountainstreams of temperate climates in the northern hemisphere - especially in Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Saxony, Bohemia, Bavaria, Lapland and Canada. The pearls of Britain are mentioned by Tacitus and by Pliny, and a breastplate studded with British pearls was dedicated by Julius Caesar to Venus Genetrix. As early as 1 355 Scotch pearls are referred to in a statute of the goldsmiths of Paris; and in the reign of Charles II. the Scotch pearl trade was sufficiently important to attract the attention of parliament. The Scotch pearl-fishery, after having declined for years, was revived in 1860 by a German named Moritz Unger, who visited Scotland and bought up all the pearls he could find in the hands of the peasantry, thus leading to an eager search for more pearls the following season. It is estimated that in 1865 the produce of the season's fishing in the Scotch rivers was worth at least £12,000. This yield, however, was not maintained, and at the present time only a few pearls are obtained at irregular intervals by an occasional fisherman.

The principal rivers in Scotland which have yielded pearls are the Spey, the Tay and the South Esk; and to a less extent the Doon, the Dee, the Don, the Ythan, the Teith, the Forth and many other streams. In North Wales the Conway was at one time celebrated for its pearls; and it is related that Sir Richard Wynn, chamberlain to the queen of Charles II., presented her with a Conway pearl which is believed to occupy a place in the British crown. In Ireland the rivers of Donegal, Tyrone and Wexford have yielded pearls. It is said that Sir John Hawkins the circumnavigator had a patent for pearl-fishing in the Irt in Cumberland. Although the pearlfisheries of Britain are now neglected, it is otherwise with those of Germany. The most important of these are in the forest-streams of Bavaria, between Ratisbon and Passau. The Saxon fisheries are chiefly confined to the basin of the White Elster, and those of Bohemia to the Horazdiowitz district of Wotawa. For more than two centuries the Saxon fisheries have been carefully regulated by inspectors, who examine the streams every spring, and determine where fishing is to be permitted. After a tract has been fished over, it is left to rest for ten or fifteen years. The fisher-folk open the valves of the mussels with an iron instrument, and if they find no pearl restore the mussel to the water.

River pearls are found in many parts of the United States, and have been systematically worked in the Little Miami river, Warren county, Ohio, and also on the Mississippi, especially about Muscatine, Iowa. The season extends from June to October. Japan produces fresh-water pearls, found especially in the Anodonta japonica. But it is in China that the culture of the pearl-mussel is carried to the greatest perfection. The Chinese also obtain marine pearls, and use a large quantity of mother-of-pearl for decorative purposes. More than twenty-two centuries before our era pearls are enumerated as a tribute or tax in China; and they are mentioned as products of the western part of the empire in the Rh'ya, a dictionary compiled earlier than moo B.C. A process for promoting the artificial formation of pearls in the Chinese river-mussels was discovered by Ye-jin-yang, a native of Hoochow, in the 13th century; and this process is still extensively carried on near the city of Teh-tsing, where it forms the staple industry of several villages,, and is said to give employment to about 5000 people. Large numbers of the mussels are collected in May and June, and the valves. of each are gently opened with a spatula to allow of the introduction, of various foreign bodies, which are inserted by means of a forked bamboo stick. These "matrices" are generally pellets of prepared mud, but may be small bosses of bone, brass or wood. After a number of these objects have been placed in convenient positions on one‘ valve, the unfortunate mollusc is turned over and the operation is repeated on the other valve. The mussels are then placed in shallow ponds connected with the canals, and are nourished by tubs of nightsoil being thrown in from time to time. After several months, in some cases two or three years, the mussels are removed, and the pearls which have formed over the matrices are cut from the shells, while the molluscs themselves serve as food. The matrix is generally extracted from the pearl and the cavity filled with white wax, the aperture being neatly sealed up so as to render the appearance of the pearl as perfect as possible. Millions of such pearls are annually sold at Soo-chow. The most curious of these Chinese pearls are those which present the form of small seated images of Buddha. The figures are cast in very thin lead, or stamped in tin, and are inserted as previously described. Specimens of these Buddha pearls in the British Museum are referred to the species Dipsas plicata. It should be mentioned that Linnaeus, probably ignorant of what had long been practised in China, demonstrated the possibility of producing artificial pearls in the fresh-water mussels of Sweden.

Pink pearls are occasionally found in the great conch or fountain shell of the West Indies, Strombus gigas, L.; but these, though much prized, are not nacreous, and their tint is apt to fade. They are also produced by the chank shell, Turbinella scolymus, L.' Yellowishbrown pearls, of little or no value, are yielded by the Pinna squamosa, and bad-coloured concretions are formed by the Placuna placenta.2 Black pearls, which are very highly valued, are obtained chiefly from the pearl oyster of the Gulf of Mexico. The common marine mussel Mytilus edulis also produces pearls, which are, however, of little value.

According to the latest researches the cause of pearl-formation is in most cases, perhaps in all, the dead body of a minute parasite within the tissues of a mollusc, around which nacreous deposit is secreted. The parasite is a stage in the life history of a Trematode in some cases, in others of a Cestode; that is to say of a form resembling the common liver-fluke of the sheep, or of a tapeworm. As long ago as 1852 Filippi of Turin showed that the species of Trematode Distomum duplicatum was the cause of a pearl formation in the fresh-water mussel Anodonta. Kuchenmeister subsequently investigated the question at Elster in Saxony and came to a different conclusion, namely that the central body of the pearl was a small specimen of a species of water mite which is a very common parasite of Anodonta. Filippi however states that the mite is only rarely found within a pearl, the Trematode occurring in the great majority of cases. R. Dubois and Dr H. Lyster Jameson have made special investigations of the process in the common mussel Mytilus edulis. The 'latter states that the pearl is produced in a sac which is situated beneath the epidermis of the mantle and is lined by an epithelium. This epithelium is not derived from the cells of the epidermis but from the internal connective-tissue cells. This statement, if correct, is contrary to what would be expected, for calcareous matter is usually secreted by the external epidermis only. The sac or cyst is formed by the larva of a species of Trematode belonging to the genus Leucithodendrium, a species closely resembling and probably identical with L. somateriae, which lives in the adult state in the eider duck. At Billiers, Morbihan, in France, the host of the adult Trematode is another species of duck, namely the common Scoter, Oedemia nigra, which is notorious in the locality for its avidity for mussels. Trematodes of the family Distomidae, to which the parasite under consideration belongs, usually have three hosts in each of which they pass different stages of the life history. In this case the first host at Billiers is a species of bivalve called Tapes decussatus, but at Piel in Lancashire there are no Tapes and the first stages of the parasite are found in the common cockle. The Trematode enters the first host as a minute newly hatched embryo and 1 Strombus gigas, L., is a Gastropod belonging to the family Strombidae, of the order Pectinibranchia. Turbinella scolymus, Lam., is a Gastropod of the same order.

2 Placuna placenta, L., belongs to the family Anomiidae; it is found on the shores of North Australia. Pinna squamosa, Gmelin, belongs to the Ostreacea; it occurs in the Mediterranean. Both. are Lamellibranchs.

leaves it in the form called Cercaria, which is really an immature condition of the adult. The Cercaria makes its way into the tissues of a mussel and there becomes enclosed in the cyst previously described. If the mussel is then swallowed by the duck the Cercariae develop into adult Trematodes or flukes in the liver or intestines of the bird. In the mussels which escape being devoured the parasites cannot develop further, and they die and become embedded in the nacreous deposit which forms a pearl. Dr Jameson points out that, as in other cases, pearls in Mytilus are common in certain special localities and rare elsewhere, and that the said localities are those where the parasite and its hosts are plentiful.

The first suggestion that the most valuable pearls obtained from pearl oysters in tropical oceans might be due to parasites was made by Kelaart in reports to the government of Ceylon in 18 5718 59. Recently a special investigation of the Ceylon pearl fishery has been organized by Professor Herdman. Herdman and Hornell find that in the pearl oyster of Ceylon Margaritifera 'vulgaris, Schum, the nucleus of the pearl is, in all specimens examined, the larva of a Cestode or tapeworm. This larva is of globular form and is of the type known as a cysticercus. As in the case of the mussel the larva dies in its cyst and its remains are enshrined in nacreous deposit, so that, as a French writer has said, the ornament associated in all ages with beauty and riches is nothing but the brilliant sarcophagus of a worm.

The cysticercus described by Herdman and Hornell has on the surface a muscular zone within which is a depression containing a papilla which can be protruded. It was at first identified as the larva of a tapeworm called Tetrarhynchus, and Professor Herdman concluded that the life-history of the pearl parasite consisted of four stages, the first being exhibited by free larvae which were taken at the surface of the sea, the second that in the pearl oyster, the third a form found in the bodies of file-fishes which feed on the oysters, and the fourth or adult stage living in some species of large ray. It has not however been proved that the pearl parasite is a Tetrarhynchus, nor that it is connected with the free larva or the form found in the file-fish, Balistes; nor has the adult form been identified. All that is certain is that the pearls are due to the presence of a parasite which is the larva of a Cestode; all the rest is probability or possibility. A French naturalist, M. Seurat, studying the pearl oyster of the Gambier Archipelago in the Pacific, found that pearl formation was due to a parasite quite similar to that described by Herdman and Hornell. This parasite was described by Professor Giard as characterized by a rostrum armed with a single terminal sucker and he did not identify it with Tetrarhynchus.

Genuine precious pearls and the most valuable mother-of-pearl are produced by various species and varieties of the genus Meleagrina of Lamarck, for which Dr Jameson in his recent revision of the species prefers the name Margaritifera. The genus is represented in tropical regions in all parts of the world. It belongs to the family Aviculidae, which is allied to the Pectens or scallop shells. In this family the hinge border is straight and prolonged into two auriculae; the foot has a very stout byssus. Meleagrina is distinguished by the small size or complete absence of the posterior auricula. The species are as follows. The type species is Meleagrina margaritifera, which has no teeth on the hinge. Geographical races are distinguished by different names in the trade. Specimens from the Malay Archipelago have a dark band along the margin of the nacre and are known as black-edged Banda shell; those from Australia and New Guinea and the neighbouring islands of the western Pacific are called Australian and New Guinea black-lip. Another variety occurs in Tahiti, Gambier Islands and Eastern Polynesia generally, yielding both pearls and shell. It occurs also in China, Ceylon, the Andaman Islands and the Maldives. Another form is taken at Zanzibar, Madagascar, and the neighbouring islands, and is called Zanzibar and Madagascar shell. Bombay shell is another local form fished in the Persian Gulf and shipped via Bombay. The Red Sea variety is known as Egyptian shell. Another variety occurs along the west coast of America and from Panama to Vancouver, and supplies Panama shell and some pearls. A larger form, attaining a foot in diameter and a weight of Io lb per pair of shells, is considered as a distinct species by Dr Jameson and named Margaritifera maxima. It is found along the north coast of Australia and New Guinea and the Malay Archipelago. The nacreous surface of this shell is white, without the black or dark margin of the common species; it is known in the trade as the silver-lip, gold-lip and by other names. It is the most valuable species of mother-of-pearl oyster.

Dr Jameson distinguishes in addition to the above thirty-two species of Margaritifera or Meleagrina; all these have rudimentary teeth on the hinge. The most important species is Meleagrina vulgaris, to which belong the pearl oyster of Ceylon and southern India, the lingah shell of the Persian Gulf and the pearl oyster of the Red Sea. Since the opening of the Suez Canal the latter form has invaded the Mediterranean, specimens having been taken at Alexandria and at Malta, and attempts have been made to cultivate it on the French coast. The species occurs also on the coasts of the Malay Peninsula, Australia and New Guinea, where it is fished both for its shells (Australian lingah) and for pearls. Two species occur on the coasts of South Africa but have no market value. Meleagrina carchariarum is the Shark's Bay shell of the London market. It is taken in large quantities at Shark's Bay, Western Australia, and is of rather small value; it also yields pearls of inferior quality. The pearl oyster of Japan, known as Japan lingah, is probably a variety of Meleagrina vulgaris. Meleagrina radiata is the West Indian pearl oyster.

The largest and steadiest consumption of mother-of-pearl is in the button trade, and much is also consumed by cutlers for handles of fruit and dessert knives and forks, pocket-knives, &c. It is also used in the inlaying of Japanese and Chinese lacquers, European lacquered papier-mache work, trays, &c., and as an ornamental inlay generally. The carving of pilgrim shells and the elaboration of crucifixes and ornamental work in mother-of-pearl is a distinctive industry of the monks and other inhabitants of Bethlehem. Among the South Sea Islands the shell is largely fashioned into fishing-hooks. Among shells other than those of Meleagrina margaritifera used as mother-of-pearl may be mentioned the Green Ear or Ormer shell (Haliotis tuberculate) and several other species of Haliotis, besides various species of Turbo. Artificial pearls were first made in western Europe in 1680 by Jacquin, a rosary-maker in Paris, and the trade is now largely carried on in France, Germany and Italy. Spheres of thin glass are filled with a preparation known as "essence d'orient," made from the silvery scales of the bleak or "ablette," which is caused to adhere to the inner wall of the globe, and the cavity is then filled with white wax. Many imitation pearls are now formed of an opaline glass of nacreous lustre, and the soft appearance of the pearl obtained by the judicious use of hydrofluoric acid. An excellent substitute for black pearl is found in the so-called "ironstone jewelry," and consists of close-grained haematite, not too highly polished; but the great density of the haematite immediately destroys the illusion. Pink pearls are imitated by turning small spheres out of the rosy part of the conch shell, or even out of pink coral.

See Clements R. Markham, "The Tinnevelly Pearl Fishery," in Journ. Soc. Arts (1867), xv., 256; D. T. Macgowan, "Pearls and Pearl-making in China," ibid. (1854), ii. 72; F. Hague, "On the Natural and Artificial Production of Pearls in China," in Journ. Roy. Asiatic Soc. (1856), vol. xvi.; H. J. Le Beck, "Pearl Fishery in the Gulf of Manar," in Asiatic Researches (1798), v. 393; K. Mobius, Die echten Perlen (Hamburg, 1857); H. Lyster Jameson, "Formation of Pearls," Proc. Zool. Soc. (1902), pl. 1; idem, "On the Identity and Distribution of Mother-of-Pearl Oysters," Proc. Zool. Soc. (1901), pl. I, pp. 372-394; Herdman and Hornell, Rep. Ceylon Pearl Fisheries (London, Royal Soc., 1903); and Kunz and Stevenson, Book of the Pearl (New York, 1908), with bibliography. (J. T. C.)

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Up to date as of January 14, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also pearl



Proper noun




  1. A female given name from the English noun pearl.


  • 1850 Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, Chapter VI:
    Her Pearl!—For so had Hester called her; not as a name expressive of her aspect, which had nothing of the calm, white, unimpassioned lustre that would be indicated by the comparison. But she named the infant "Pearl," as being of great price,—purchased with all she had,—her mother's only treasure!
  • 1992 Karen Kijewski, Kat's Cradle, page 7:
    "What was your name?"
    "Pearl." Ruby and Pearl, mother and daughter. " It's an ugly name, isn't it?"
    "No, it isn't". And I meant it, it wasn't. "Old-fashioned, perhaps, but nice."
    She stared at me. "Do you know what pearls are? They're ugliness: dirt or sand gets in an oyster and the oyster coats it over so that it won't be irritating."


Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

(Heb. gabish, Job 28:18; Gr. margarites, Mt 7:6; 13:46; Rev 21:21). The pearl oyster is found in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. Its shell is the "mother of pearl," which is of great value for ornamental purposes (1 Tim 2:9; Rev 17:4). Each shell contains eight or ten pearls of various sizes.

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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Simple English

File:White pearl
A white pearl necklace.

Pearls are a kind of material made by mollusks, like oysters. Pearls are small and often white but sometimes in pale colors or even black. They are often round, but sometimes half-round, oval, or in different shapes. Pearls are often used for jewelry. The pearl is the birthstone for the month June.

How a pearl is made

A pearl forms when something like a grain of sand gets inside the bivalve shell right between the mantle and the shell. A mantle's job is to make the shell. This mantle reacts to the sand by making layers of shell material around it. Soon the object is completely encased inside layers of shiny shell. Over the years, these layers of shell continue to form the object, making it bigger and bigger. This was discovered by Enna O'Lien. They can be very tiny (as tiny as a peppercorn) or quite big (as big as a human's fist). The world's largest pearl, found in 1934 and called the Pearl of Lao-tze, is about the size of a basketball.

Types of Pearls

There are two kinds of pearls: salt water pearls and fresh water pearls. Salt water pearls come from oysters that live in the oceans. These pearls are usually perfectly round and white: the most expensive kind you can buy. Fresh water pearls found in mussels that live in rivers, lakes, or ponds are not so round, and they can have lots of different colors. [1]

There is also a natural pearl and a cultured pearl. Natural pearls are made by oysters accidentally, and are very rare. Cultured pearls are made by tiny beads being purposely put into the oysters to begin making pearls. These pearls are harvested after a few years.


  1. Exploring Creation with Zoology 2 by Jeannie K. Fulbright p. 147
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