Dear, readers! We continue with our trip around the world to learn about the history of the pieces of jewelry that have marked the history of humanity. Today I will talk about the magnificent jewelry of Egypt.
In the ancient Egyptians, as in the ancient civilizations, personal adornment was highly valued, and jewelry was worn by both men and women of all social classes. Earrings, bracelets, armbands, collar pieces, rings and anklets were all common types of adornments worn in ancient Egypt.
Empowered by advanced technology, access to the precious metals and gems, and culture of nobles and royalty who appreciated luxury and rarity over mass produced jewelry items, they soon become the leading force of jewelry manufacture and creators of trends that will live forever.
However, jewelry played different roles in the Egyptian community. They had a religious and magical meaning and were used to protect the bearer from evil. Although the jewels were to be used in life, they were also used to decorate the mummies as funerary rituals.
Archaeological studies have shown that the tombs were adorned with crowns, necklaces, gold ribbons, bands, belts like waist belts, earrings, bracelets, rings, bracelets and pectorals that were worn around the chest.
The ancient Egyptians began making jewelry with fairly simple materials such as branches of plants, shells, pearls, stones or solid bones, and these were organized into linen or cowhide threads during El-Badari and Naqada, which are very ancient cultures that existed in the Predynastic Period of Egypt.
The Egyptians began to use glass substances to give the stones a little shine, and they also gained experience in making jewelry with different metals, such as gold, silver and copper, and with semi-precious stones.
The main materials used to make Egyptian jewelry were copper and gold. The lower class people could afford copper, while the nobility preferred gold, although the desire of every teenager at this time was to have some jewel of gold to be able to show off. Both materials were mined in the Nubian deserts and the supply was abundant.
Silver jewelry was very rarely discovered during Egyptian excavations, since silver was not precisely available in ancient Egypt. Egyptian jewelers used gold whose color variations ranged from gray to brick red and pink. The variation in colors came from the intentional and natural mixture of elements such as silver, copper and iron with gold.
The lapis lazuli stone made its way through the Mediterranean towards ancient Egypt, where it was the favorite stone for amulets and ornaments such as beetles; it was also named by the Egyptians “the stone of the stars”, because of its heavenly appearance.
Lapis lazuli jewelry has been found in Naquada excavations. In Karnak, the relief carvings of Thutmose III, show fragments and cylindrical pieces of lapis lazuli, being given to him as a tribute. Lapis lazuli powder was used as makeup by Cleopatra.
The ankh is one of the most familiar of Egyptian symbols. The ankh may represent the life-giving elements of air and water. It was often shown being offered to the king’s lips as a symbol of the “breath of life”. The popularity of the ankh is evident in the numerous and varied types of everyday objects which were shaped in the form of the ankh. In Tutankhamun’s tomb, a gilded mirror case was found in the shape of the ankh.
Another important symbol of ancient Egypt is The eye of Horus, as it is a symbol of protection, royal power and good health. The eye is personified in the goddess Wadjet. Horus was an ancient a sky god whose eyes were said to be the sun and the moon. However, he soon became strongly associated with the sun (and the sun god Ra as Ra-Horakhty (“Ra, who is Horus of the two horizons”) while Thoth was associated with the moon.
An ancient myth describes a battle between Horus and Set in which Horus´ right eye was torn out and Set lost his testicles!Thoth magically restored Horus´ eye, at which point it was given the name “Wadjet” (“whole” or “healthy”).
In this myth it is specifically stated that it is Horus’ left eye which has been torn out, so the myth relates to the waxing and waning of the moon during which the moon appears to have been torn out of the sky before being restored once every lunar month.
It was believed that the Eye of Horus has a healing and protective power, and it was used as a protective amulet. It was also used as a notation of measurement, particularly for measuring the ingredients in medicines and pigments. The symbol was divided into six parts, representing the shattering of Horus´ eye into six pieces. Each piece was associated with one of the six senses and a specific fraction.
Tutankhamun bracelet: It is a jewel with incrustations of carnelian agate, lapis lazuli and colored glass. It has a hinge and a clip that serve as a closure and has an edge that surrounds the lapis lazuli beetle. The beetle in ancient Egypt represented the rising sun, the resurrection and was an amulet of life and power. It is said that in life it provided protection against evil.
Queen Ahhotep Bracelet: This bracelet is composed of thirty rows of gold pearls and semiprecious stones, alternating with one another in a pattern that forms triangles and squares. The gold plates that are observed slide one inside the other to close the bracelet.
Crown Princess Khnumit: It has gold decorations horizontally and vertically, and has incrustations of glass paste and semi-precious stones.
Bracelet of the King Psusennes I: Made of gold and carved on the outside and inside of the piece. The King used to wear 20 bracelets on his arms daily.
Amulet with the figure of Isis: It was designed for the leader Wen-Gbao. It has the figure of a woman who represents the Egyptian goddess Isis. In this she holds in his head a solar circle between ram’s horns and is surrounded by a royal cobra on her forehead.
Tutankhamun brooch: 6.8cm high brooch made of gold, silver and colored crystals. It reflects two royal cobras, a half moon in gold and a full moon in silver to protect the king day and night.
If you like Lapis Lazuli I recommend you to visit Nammu shop and get your own piece of history. You should take a look at impressive bracelets, earrings, necklaces, pendants, rings, etc. I’m sure you’ll like it.