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The Rarest Blue: The Remarkable Story of an Ancient Color Lost to History and Rediscovered
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The Rarest Blue: The Remarkable Story of an Ancient Color Lost to History and Rediscovered

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  63 ratings  ·  13 reviews
For centuries, blue and purple dyed fabrics ranked among the ancient world’s most desirable objects, commanding many times their weight in gold. Few people knew their secrets, carefullyguarding the valuable knowledge, and strict laws regulated their production and use. The Rarest Blue tells the incredible story of tekhelet, the elusive sky-blue color mentioned throughout t ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published November 20th 2012 by Lyons Press (first published January 1st 2012)
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The Rarest Blue is a fascinating story of how the ancient method of making tekhelet, a sky blue dye, was long lost to history. Over the centuries many tried to find this source, and some claimed to have "found it" But others claimed no they hadn't. It is said to have been produced by the sea creature the "ḥillazon".

Its body is similar to the sea.
Its form is like a fish.
It comes up once in 70 years,
With its "blood" one dyes tekhelet,
Therefore: It is expensive.
The fishers of the ḥillazon are
Ok, so I was thinking this would talk a lot about the Murex dye. And it does, extensively, sort of. It talks a lot more about Jewish history and the attempts over time to dye a particular religious garment a particular shade of blue -- and that's interesting, but I think it would be more compelling if I was interested in obscure schisms in the Jewish faith and had studied the Talmud and was concerned about what this dye means to the people of that faith.

I am interested in the murex dye -- in th
I read this book for the dye history, but it's certainly much more than that. While I had known that there used to be a purple dye made from snails, what I didn't know was that the same dye was used to make a blue, too. And that this blue was used to color one strand of the tzitzit, and was in fact a commandment. But over time, this knowledge of this dye disappeared, and so did the use of a strand of blue because the law said it had to be this particular blue dye. It's this religious history tha ...more
As an artist I was always aware of the spectrums of blue. The use of lapis (an expensive gem)in oil paintings. The Virgin Mary always wearing a blue garment symbolizing her importance by surrounding her in the most expensive color produced. But, I had never considered the color blue and it's place in history thousands of years ago. I started this book thinking that its prime focus would be the Tallis but it really delved into the history of the Romans, Greeks and Phoenicians. The whole dyeing hi ...more
Note: in the ebook copy of this that I read, the text itself only went to 76% of the book; the remainder was notes and so on.

Talk about a microhistory! This book is about people (including the author) trying to find a lost historical secret: the source and method to make a specific shade of blue dye for use in Jewish religious garments. I think this may be the most focused "microhistory" I've ever read, and I'm a fan of that subgenre, so I've read quite a few. I liked this book -- the author's s
This was probably more like 2.5 stars. I enjoyed learning about the blue of the faithful Jews, and the way this color took the world by storm back in the day. Also, some fascinating side stories on how it was harvested, etc.

I can't bump it up to a full 3 stars because it put me to sleep no less than 3 times. For whatever reason, I could only get through a couple of chapters at a time before I just had to rest my eyes for a minute...or ten.

Any chance of this one coming out as a juvenile book, w
I casually picked this up because I like so many blue colors. Along with learning about how sea snails were used to dye wool blue beginning with the Minoans, I was very interested in learning about Jewish laws about wearing sky blue thread in the tassels on prayer shawls. Sounds obscure, but if I had a high school chemistry teacher who presented this story and the science, I might have stuck with the subject. Another surprising non-fiction book. I must admit to skimming over some of the gamma ra ...more
Ben Pashkoff
May 16, 2013 Ben Pashkoff rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Ben by: Tsipi
I do not know - Lots of interesting information, maybe too much. A wide variety of aspects on Blue, also maybe too much. Seemed to kip around too much without getting to any major points.I would have liked to give it a 5 star, but.....
Fascinating Story well told. The author weaves together both ancient and modern history, chemistry and biology to create a deeper understanding of this old yet new color. You will never look at the color blue the same way again.
I found this book fun to read as it mixes history with the modern day "adventure" of real people studying a real scientific process. It was small in size and very approachable, with plenty of pictures and diagrams.
Martin Rundkvist
Well written but completely uncritical in its attitude to Hasidic Judaism, the historicity of Old Testament events and the importance of even the most nonsensical of Biblical commandments.
Started out really really interesting.. But then devolves into arguments about Jewish holy law and how the opposing side is so OBVIOUSLY wrong. Pass!
Steve Gross
The history of tchelet, the blue thread in tzitzit, with many sidelines.
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Baruch Sterman is co-founder of the Ptil Tekhelet Association. Baruch received his doctorate in Physics from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where he developed a CO2 laser used for both medical and industrial purposes. He received his Masters in Electrical Engineering from Columbia University. For the past fifteen years, Baruch has been a leading executive in the High-Tech sector in Israel, sp ...more
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Rarest Blue: The Remarkable Story of an Ancient Color Lost to History and Rediscovered

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