A compact variety or sulphate of lime, or gypsum, of fine texture, and usually white and translucent, but sometimes yellow, red, or gray. It is carved into vases, mantel ornaments, etc.
A hard, compact variety of carbonate of lime, somewhat translucent, or of banded shades of color; stalagmite. The name is used in this sense by Pliny. It is sometimes distinguished as oriental alabaster.
A fine-grained, translucent variety of gypsum (calcium sulfate) used in sculpture. It may be pure white or streaked with reddish brown. Alabaster, like all other forms of gypsum, forms by the evaporation of bedded deposits that are precipitated mainly from evaporating seawater. It is soft enough to be scratched with a fingernail and hence it is easily broken, soiled, and weathered. Because of its softness, alabaster is often carved for statuary and other decorative purposes. It is quarried in England and in Italy.