Carrara marble – “Luni marble”

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Carrara Marble Mine
Carrara Marble Mine

A white or blue-grey marble

Carrara marble is a white or blue-grey marble that is commonly used in sculpture and building decor. Carrara in the province of Massa and Carrara in the Lunigiana, the northernmost tip of modern-day Tuscany, Italy, is where it is quarried.

“I choose a block of marble and chop off whatever I don’t need.”

Auguste Rodin

History

Carrara marble has been used since Ancient Rome and was known as “Luni marble.” The marble quarries were overseen by the Cybo and Malaspina families, who ruled over Massa and Carrara in the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1564, the family established the “Office of Marble” to regulate the marble mining industry. Massa, in particular, had much of its plan redesigned (new roads, plazas, intersections, and pavings) to make it fit for an Italian country’s capital. Following the extinction of the Cybo-Malaspina family, the state was ruled by the House of Austria, which also managed the mines. The Massa Basilica is entirely made of Carrara marble. The old Ducal Palace of Massa was used to display the precious stone.

An example of Carrara marble
An example of Carrara marble

Carrara had become a cradle of anarchism in Italy by the end of the nineteenth century, particularly among quarry workers. Workers in the marble quarries were among the most neglected labourers in Italy, according to a New York Times article from 1894. Many of them had been ex-convicts or were on the run from the law. The work at the quarries was so difficult and exhausting that almost any aspirant worker with enough muscle and endurance was hired, regardless of their background.

Interior of the Main Prayer Hall in Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Interior of the Main Prayer Hall in Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The quarry workers and stone carvers held radical beliefs that set them apart from the rest of the population. Anarchism and general radicalism became a part of the stone carvers’ heritage. Many violent revolutionaries expelled from Belgium and Switzerland gathered in Carrara in 1885 to form the first anarchist group in Italy. [5] “Even the stones are anarchists,” anarchist Galileo Palla observed in Carrara. [6] In January 1894, the quarry workers were the main actors in the Lunigiana revolt.

Sources

Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

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