a soft white stone which mineralogists
call sepiolite (hydrous magnesium
silicate, called lületaşı [LUR-leh-tah-shuh]
It's mined in villages near Eskisehir in Aegean
Turkey and carved into beads,
necklaces, earrings and especially pipes.
Köyü and Kozlubel are
two villages at the center of the
meerschaum mining area.
A wooden derrick is
built above a rectangular pit dug
to reach the vein of meerschaum. Men
go down in the pit, sometimes 100 meters
(328 feet) deep, to dig in the dirt
for "white gold" (beyaz
You'll find articles carved from meerschaum
for sale all over Turkey, and especially
in Istanbul's Grand
pipes are the most familiar
and famous item.
It's now against the law to
export block meerschaum from
Turkey. The government realizes that
by keeping the rough meerschaum in
Turkey, it provides more jobs for
the country's master carvers.