Rubies and Emeralds and Pearls, oh my!
When you think of precious gems in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, what immediately comes to mind? Emeralds, of course. Why is this? Because the Emerald City is the central metropolis in the Land of Oz. It is the must-see destination for all visitors to Oz.
However, there is another prominent precious stone that appears multiple times in “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” and is arguably of equal, if not greater, significance.
Emeralds are protective stones. The walls of the Emerald City are dazzling green, and the gates are studded with emeralds. In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and her friends must put on Emerald Spectacles in order to protect their eyes from the brilliance.
“I am the Guardian of the Gates, and since you demand to see the Great Oz I must take you to his Palace. But first you must put on the spectacles.”
“Why?” asked Dorothy.
“Because if you did not wear spectacles the brightness and glory of the Emerald City would blind you. Even those who live in the City must wear spectacles night and day. They are all locked on, for Oz so ordered it when the City was first built.”
– The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, chapter 10, “The Guardian of the Gate”
Oscar Diggs, after he arrived in Oz and was called The Wizard, commissoned the construction of The Emerald City. In his old age, as a humbug, he shared his rationale for naming it The Emerald City:
“[To] keep the good people busy, I ordered them to build this City, and my Palace; and they did it all willingly and well. Then I thought, as the country was so green and beautiful, I would call it the Emerald City; and to make the name fit better I put green spectacles on all the people, so that everything they saw was green.”
– The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, chapter 15, “The Discovery of Oz, the Terrible”
Therefore, the emerald became the central stone in the Land of Oz. But it may not be the most powerful or precious stone.
That designation belongs to the ruby. Deep brilliant red in color, the ruby is significant in its color and power. L. Frank Baum noted this when he gave the ruby three different appearances in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
The Ruby Palace
“There lived here then, away at the North, a beautiful princess, who was also a powerful sorceress. All her magic was used to help the people, and she was never known to hurt anyone who was good. Her name was Gayelette, and she lived in a handsome palace built from great blocks of ruby.”
– The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, chapter 14, “The Winged Monkeys”
The Golden Cap
How fitting it is that the Queen of the Ruby Palace, Gayelette, would choose to add the lovely ruby to the most powerful magical item in her treasury – the Golden Cap. Baum writes:
There was, in her cupboard, a Golden Cap, with a circle of diamonds and rubies running round it. This Golden Cap had a charm.
– The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, chapter 12, “The Search for the Wicked Witch”
The Ruby Throne
While both the Ruby Palace and The Golden Cap held a prominent place in the history of Oz, perhaps the most powerful use of rubies is the seat of leadership. When Dorothy visited Glinda the Good in the South, the sorceress sat in a Ruby Throne.
When they were all quite presentable they followed the soldier girl into a big room where the Witch Glinda1 sat upon a throne of rubies.
– The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, chapter 23, “Glinda the Good Witch Grants Dorothy’s Witch”
The Giant Hourglass
And so we move to the Hidden History of Oz. Time passes in Oz thanks to the magic of the Giant Hourglass, hidden somewhere in the lands of the North. In The Witch Queens, we learn:
Beneath the ground, the bubbling ruby river, drawn by the inexorable pull of the Giant Hourglass—hidden away in the mountains of the North—flowed backwards on its course. With the RubyPalace gone, and the balance of time severed, the ruby blood of Oz flowed back to the next-most-powerful location—the Giant Hourglass of Oz. The backwards force of the powerful river burst out of the cliff face, showering heavy rubies as the liquid petrefacted in the air.
– The Hidden History of Oz, Book One: The Witch Queens, chapter 6, “The Destruction of the Ruby Palace”
While the blood of the Land of Oz flows, the Queen of Dreams cannot enter.
Dorothy did not encounter any pearls in her journey to meet the Wizard. But that does not decrease their significance.
Remember, Oz was once a land surrounded by seas. Before the seas were destroyed in the First Witch Wars, pearls could be found regularly in the treasuries of the land. After the seas dried up, and the oysters were no more, pearls became a scarcity. Over the centuries, the scarcity of pearls only increased. Pearls became valued simply because they were so rare. There was not a way to produce pearls, so their supply was strictly limited. Anyone who had pearls was very rich, indeed.
Emeralds and Rubies and Pearls all play a vital role in the unfolding Hidden History of Oz. Read more about their significance in The Hidden History of Oz series. Book One: The Witch Queens, is now available on Amazon, in both paperback and Kindle editions.
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