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Pearl (The)

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Dioscorʹidēs and Pliny mention the belief that pearls are formed by drops of rain falling into the oystershells while open; the rain-drops thus received being hardened into pearls by some secretions of the animal.

According to Richardson, the Persians say when drops of spring-rain fall into the pearl-oyster they produce pearls.

“Precious the tear as that rain from the sky

Which turns into pearls as it falls on the sea.”



“Pearls … are believed to be the result of an abnormal secretory process caused by an irritation of the mollusk consequent on the intrusion into the shell of some foreign body, as a grain of sand, an egg of the mollusk itself, or perhaps some cercarian parasite.”—G. F. King: Gems, etc., chap. xii. p. 211.

⁂ Cardan says that pearls are polished by being pecked and played with by doves. (De Rerum Varietate, vii. 34.)

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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