A carbuncle // is an archaic name given to any red gemstone. The name applied particularly to red garnet. The word occurs in four places in most English translations of the Bible. Each use originates from the Vulgate's Latin translation of the Septuagint's Greek term Anthrax – meaning coal, in reference to the color of burning coal; in this sense, a carbuncle is usually taken to mean a gem, particularly a deep-red garnet, unfaceted and convex. In the same place in the masoretic text is the Hebrew word נופח or nofech (no'-fekh); however, the Hebrew definition is less definite and the precise color of the gems is not known.
The word is believed to have originated from the Latin: carbunculus, originally a small coal; diminutive of carbon-, carbo: charcoal or ember, but also a carbuncle stone, "precious stones of a red or fiery colour", usually garnets.
- Exodus 28:17 and 39:10 both refer to the carbuncle's use as the third stone in the breastplate of the Hoshen.
- Ezekiel 28:13 refers to the carbuncle's presence in the Garden of Eden.
- Isaiah 54:12 uses carbuncle to convey the value of the Lord's blessing [and promise to] His faithful barren woman servant: (KJV Is 54:1) "Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child;") Her husband and Maker is God, "Thy Maker is thine husband." (Is 54:5 KJV)
- "And I will make thy her windows of agates, and thy her gates of carbuncles, and all thy her borders of pleasant stones."
- The gem is the stolen item in question in the Sherlock Holmes tale "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle."
- A carbuncle plays a mystic role in Nathaniel Hawthorne's story, "The Great Carbuncle."
- Hamlet by William Shakespeare refers to carbuncles in act 2 scene 2 line 401:
- "With eyes like carbuncles, the hellish Pyrrhus..."
- A fantastical animal called a carbuncle is mentioned in certain editions of Jorge Luis Borges' Book of Imaginary Beings. It is described as a small, elusive animal that is hunted for the red gemstone in its head. This carbuncle appears today in certain fantasy-based roleplaying games such as Dungeons & Dragons and Final Fantasy, as well as a Pokémon inspired by the carbuncle, Espeon.
- Carbuncles are listed among the gemstones collected by Dorian Gray in Chapter 11 of the 1891 version of "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh!, there is a monster card called "Crystal Beast Ruby Carbuncle" and it features a fairy like creature with a ruby colored gem.
- Carbuncle is the name and motif of the Wiseman Phantom in the 2012 & 2013 Tokusatsu series Kamen Rider Wizard, which is about mages using magical gemstones.
- In Final Fantasy XI Online, the summoner's quest to obtain the ability to summon a spirit called Carbuncle requires the summoner to use a red garnet stone.
- The phrase "precious as carbuncles" is used several times in the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
- In Pokémon X and Y, two Pokémon, Carbink and Diancie, are based on carbuncles.
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