Meaning of Alabaster


The first step that must be taken in order to get to know the meaning of the term alabaster is to discover its etymological origin. In this case, we can determine that it is a word that derives from the Greek, specifically “alabaster”. This word was used to refer to a series of containers that were identified as having a pear shape and because they were used to preserve perfumes.

From that Greek word, later the Latin “alabaster” emerged.

According to DigoPaul, the alabaster is a type of stone white which is used for making decorative objects or sculptures.

In general it is a class of plaster that, although it is compact, does not present a great hardness. Although not being so hard it can be damaged with some ease, this same feature allows it to be molded or carved with great precision.

One of the most frequent uses of alabaster in ancient times was the manufacture of containers where perfumes were stored. By extension, those glasses without handles began to be called alabasters.

Many are the artistic works that have been made throughout history using alabaster as a material. Precisely one of the most significant is a statue of the Egyptian queen Tiye, the one who was the wife of Pharaoh Amenhotep III and grandmother of Tutankhamun. She was found in her husband’s funeral temple.

“The alabaster glass”, in this context, is the name of a story by the Argentine writer Leopoldo Lugones. First published in 1923, the story features an alabaster glass from Ancient Egypt, which housed a perfume for thirty centuries.

A being translucent alabaster also used in windows and on lampshades or displays of lighting products. Alabaster was generally combined with other materials.

It is important to mention that alabaster objects must be carefully cared for to avoid damage. Since the material dissolves in water, it should not be exposed to moisture. Polluting particles from the air, on the other hand, often stain it. Specialists recommend cleaning it only with soft bristled brushes. They also suggest handling the alabaster elements with gloves so as not to stain or scratch them.

Also it should not be forgotten that in the Urgell area there is the so-called Alabaster Museum of Sarral. In this town, it belongs to the province of Tarragona, it is where such a unique cultural and ethnographic center has been shaped where this material is given prominence, which has become a key part of the life of the place.

Those who visit it have the opportunity to visit a long list of items on site that, over the years, have been made with the aforementioned alabaster, such as railings or windows. That without forgetting that a workshop is offered with which visitors can touch the material as well as learn to shape it and develop an artistic work with it.