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What are the names of turquoise?

What are the names of turquoise?

Turquoise is a beautiful blue-green mineral that has been prized for millennia. It has a long and storied history, and over time it has accumulated many different names and associations. Here we will explore the myriad names that have been given to this highly valued gemstone over the centuries and across cultures.

Turquoise is an opaque, blue-to-green mineral that is a hydrated phosphate of copper and aluminium. It is rare and valuable in finer grades and has been prized as a gemstone and ornamental stone for thousands of years owing to its unique hue. Turquoise takes on different names and meanings across various cultures and time periods.

In the ancient world, turquoise was widely traded by the Egyptians, Aztecs, Mesopotamians, and many indigenous American cultures. The stunning blue-green color was associated with the heavens, fertility and life. To the ancient Egyptians, the color turquoise represented regeneration and life, while in ancient Mesoamerica it was connected to the god Quetzalcoatl, who was often depicted with turquoise jewelry and accents.

Over time, varied cultures developed different names for the striking mineral, speaking to its long history as a coveted and sacred material. From ancient Persia to the Native Americans of North America, turquoise has been a revered gem around the world.

Ancient Names for Turquoise

Some of the earliest names and associations for turquoise date back thousands of years and connect the mineral to the heavens.

Ancient Egypt

– Mfkzt – The oldest known name for turquoise, meaning “turquoise” in ancient Egyptian. The Egyptians mined turquoise in the Sinai Peninsula.

– Mesen – Ancient Egyptian name meaning “turquoise”. The color adorned royalty’s clothing, jewelry and cosmetics.

Ancient Mesopotamia

– Uqnu – Akkadian name for turquoise dating back to 2300 BCE. The name meant “sky stone” or “celestial stone”.

Ancient Persian

– Pirouzeh – The Persian name for turquoise meaning “victory stone”.

– Firuzeh – Another common Persian name for the blue mineral meaning “turquoise stone”.

Ancient Greek

– Kalais lithos – Greek name for turquoise meaning “sea stone” referring to its blue-green oceanic color.

Native American Names for Turquoise

For thousands of years, Southwest Native American tribes revered turquoise and gave it an important place in their cultures. Various tribes had their own names for the blue-green mineral.

Ancestral Puebloans

– Chal-cui-hui-tal – The Navajo name for turquoise meaning “highest and most valuable thing”

– Do-ta – The Zuni Pueblo name for turquoise


– Dichi’li – The Western Apache name for turquoise


– Ali – The Pima name for turquoise


– Haaxu – The Seri name for turquoise

Tribe Name for Turquoise Meaning
Navajo Chal-cui-hui-tal “Highest and most valuable thing”
Zuni Do-ta Turquoise
Apache Dichi’li Turquoise
Pima Ali Turquoise
Seri Haaxu Turquoise

Chinese Names for Turquoise

In China, turquoise has been treasured for over 3,000 years. Various Chinese dialects have different names for the blue-green stone.

Mandarin Chinese

– Qingyu – The Mandarin Chinese word for turquoise, meaning “blue jade”.


– Cingyu – The Cantonese name for turquoise, also meaning “blue jade”.


– Tsynyu – The turquoise stone is “tsynyu” in the Shanghainese dialect.

Other Names for Turquoise Throughout History

In addition to the names above, turquoise has been known by many other terms throughout different cultures in Europe, Asia, and beyond.

– Turchese – An early Italian name for turquoise, dating back to the 13th century.

– Turkes – An old French name, used in the 12th century. It referred to turquoise coming from Turkey.

– Turquesa – The Spanish word for turquoise, dating back to the 1500s.

– Callaïs – An alternate French name appearing in the 1600s.

– Turkoos – The Dutch name for turquoise.

– Türkis – The German word for the blue-green gemstone.

The Many Names of Turquoise in Summary

Over thousands of years, turquoise has accumulated a wealth of exotic and evocative names that reflect its globally coveted status. Ancient Egyptian names connected the stone to life and the sacred, while Native Americans saw it as reflecting the earth and sky. Persian names denoted it as a victory stone, and the Chinese likened it to jade.

From the vibrant blue of the oceans to the azure of the heavens, the striking color of turquoise has inspired beautiful names across languages and cultures through the ages. Whether known as pirouzeh, callaïs, cingyu, or simply turquoise, the stunning blue-green mineral has remained universally prized over millennia. Its many names speak to its enduring, cross-cultural appeal.


In summary, the highly valued blue-green mineral turquoise has been known by many names throughout history and across civilizations. Ancient Egyptians associated it with regeneration and life, giving it names like mesen and mfktz meaning turquoise. Southwest Native American tribes like the Navajo, Zuni and Apache called it chal-cui-hui-tal, do-ta, and dich’ili, translating to “most valuable thing” and simply “turquoise”. The Chinese named it qingyu or “blue jade”, while Persians saw it as a victory stone and named it pirouzeh. From the Italian turchese to the Dutch turkoos, turquoise has meant beautiful things to cultures across the world, accumulating exotic mythic names reflecting its status as a sacred ornamental stone. Its multitude of names speak to its globally esteemed color and history.