ob•sid•i•an (ŏb-sĭd'ē-Ən) ►n. A hard, usu. black or banded volcanic glass formed in rapid cooling of lava. ►adj. Indicating the black color of such glass.
"Obsidian is the result of volcanic lava coming in contact with water. Often the lava pours into a lake or ocean and is cooled quickly. This process produces a glassy texture in the resulting rock. Iron and magnesium give the obsidian a dark green to black color.
"Obsidian has been used by ancient people as a cutting tool, for weapons, and for ceremonial purposes and is sometimes found by archaeologists in excavations.
"Obsidian has several varieties: Sheen Obsidian or a rainbow sheen called Rainbow Obsidian. Inclusions of small, white, radially clustered crystals of cristobalite in the black glass produce a blotchy or snowflake pattern producing Snowflake Obsidian. Small nuggets of obsidian that have been naturally rounded and smoothed by wind and water are called Apache Tears."
From "The Mineraloid Obsidian," Amethyst Galleries Mineral Gallery
Obsidian Possesses a Peculiar Property
"Obsidian is commonly used for ornamental purposes, for it possesses the peculiar property of presenting a different appearance according to the manner in which it is cut. When cut in one direction it is of a beautiful jetty black; when cut across another direction it is glistering gray.
"Obsidian was highly valued in certain Stone Age cultures because, like flint, it can be fractured to produce sharp blades or arrow heads. Like all glass and some other types of naturally occurring rocks, obsidian breaks with a characteristic conchoidal fracture. It may also have been polished to create early mirrors.
"In Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican culture obsidian use was extensive and sophisticated with carved and worked obsidian for tools, as well as for decorative objects. Well crafted obsidian blades are capable of having a cutting edge as fine as high quality surgical steel scalpels. The ancient Mesoamericans also made a type of sword with obsidian blades mounted in a wooden body."
Obsidian is Hot Stuff
"Obsidian...even the name is exotic. Ever since I had my first rock collection as a child, I've loved obsidian. Sharp and shiny, obsidian is so different from other rocks. But until a few years ago when I made my first obsidian collecting trip to Glass Buttes, Oregon, I thought obsidian was pretty much just black glass. That amazing trip really opened my eyes. The ancient volcanic hills called Glass Buttes hold a dazzling variety of gem-quality obsidian, including: mahogany, red, flame, midnight lace, jet black, pumpkin, brown, rainbow, gold sheen, silver sheen, green, lizard skin, snowflake and more. My goal in this article is to increase your awareness of some of the more fascinating aspects of this incredible stone."
Read more: Obsidian is Hot Stuff by Jim Miller, B.Sc., M.Sc. Geology
The Obsidian Order
Enabran Tain, Head of the Obsidian Order, The Cardassian Secret Police on Star Trek's DS9.
The Obsidian Kitten
Sir John Tenniel's obsidian kitten
"One thing was certain, that the white kitten had had nothing to do with it--it was the black kitten's fault entirely. For the white kitten had been having its face washed by the old cat for the last quarter of an hour (and bearing it pretty well, considering): so you see that it couldn't have had any hand in the mischief.
"The way Dinah washed her children's faces was this: first she held the poor thing down by its ear with one paw, and then with the other paw she rubbed its face all over, the wrong way, beginning at the nose: and just now, as I said, she was hard at work on the white kitten, which was lying quite still and trying to purr--no doubt feeling that it was all meant for its good.
"But the black kitten had been finished with earlier in the afternoon, and so, while Alice was sitting curled up in a corner of the great armchair, half talking to herself and half asleep, the kitten had been having a grand game of romps with the ball of worsted Alice had been trying to wind up, and had been rolling it up and down till it had all come undone again; and there it was, spread over the hearth-rug, all knots and tangles, with the kitten running after its own tail in the middle.
"'Oh, you wicked, wicked little thing!' cried Alice, catching up the kitten, and giving it a little kiss to make it understand that it was in disgrace. 'Really, Dinah ought to have taught you better manners! You ought, Dinah, you know you ought!'" ...
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