Page images
[ocr errors]

In 1887, at Wâdi Halfah, when large tins of soft soap were served out for the use of one of the Black battalions, the soldiers went down to the river to bathe and, having well lathered themselves, each put a lump of soap on the top of his head, and then sat down in the shallow water in the sun and sang songs. What the unguents were perfumed with is not known, but it is probable that any and every strong-smelling vegetable oil or essence known to the Egyptians was used by them. And no doubt many of the oils and essences possessed medicinal and curative properties; each of the Seven Holy Oils mentioned on p. 239 must have been a specific for some ailment. Whether the Egyptians knew how to prepare scents, using spirit for the purpose, is not known, but it is probable that they did not. Evidence supplied by mummies and by drawings proves that the Egyptian lady reddened her lips with some substance, but no sample of red lip-salve seems to have been found in the tombs. It is equally certain that she stained the nails of her fingers and toes with hinnâ_____ (Lawsonia inermis), but how the tincture was made is not known. The unguent that was placed in jars in the tombs has now the appearance of a brown thick viscous substance, and specimens of it which are still liquid can be seen in the alabaster vases B.M. 4501, 21981 and 4500; in the last-mentioned it has percolated through the pot, which is now stuck tightly to the mount. A specimen of the substance, but quite dry and hard, is preserved in B.M. 4654, and the alabaster bottle B.M. 36384 also contains an unguent.


THE enormous numbers of beads of almost every kind found in the tombs of all periods prove that they were highly prized as ornaments by the Egyptians. They occur in many shapes-round, oval, rectangular, both square and oblong, celt-shaped, tube-shaped, etc.— and they were made of diorite, jasper, mother-of-emerald, lapislazuli, crystal, amethyst, sardonyx, onyx, carnelian, agate of various kinds, sard, garnet, haematite, porcelain, glass, gold, silver, and even of clay and straw. Strung as necklaces they were worn by the living and the dead. And when figures of the gods and sacred animals, and amulets, and pendants of certain shapes, which were made of certain materials, were interspersed among them, such collections, or necklaces, were supposed to bring protection and well-being to their wearers. Every stone was believed to possess a certain magical power or influence which it never failed to make operative when it was addressed in the proper manner, or when it was cut into a certain form, or had divine words of power cut upon

it. In primitive times, before men found out how to perforate them, beads were pressed in rows into bands or collars of mud laid upon the breast, and from this arrangement the necklace developed. Under the Ancient and Middle Kingdoms beads were generally made of crystal, carnelian, amethyst and agate of various kinds, but the arts of the lapidary and jeweller culminated under the XIIth dynasty. The necklaces and bead-work ornaments in general of this period remain unsurpassed in fineness of work, beauty of design, and good taste. An examination of the plates in de Morgan's Fouilles à Dahchour, Vienna, 1903, and Vernier's Catalogue, Cairo, 1908, will afford abundant proof of this statement. Under the XVIIIth dynasty the pendants and other additions to the beads were made of gold, and in some cases (B.M. 14693) all the beads and the attachments by which they were fastened round the neck were made of gold. Another example of a necklace of gold beads is B.M. 3075; the centre pendant is in the form of a heart. Necklaces made of carnelian beads with gold pendants were popular at this period. In one example (B.M. 3081) the pendants are in the form of crocodiles and leaves, the centre pendant being inlaid with lapis-lazuli. In another (B.M. 14694) the carnelian beads are cut

into facets and the pendants are in the form of †, meaning

"good luck"; and in a third (B.M. 30355) the gold pendants are in the forms of a lotus and a hawk (the central one). In another necklace the beads are made of chalcedony and lapis-lazuli; each is in the form of a celt and has a flat band of gold round the thickest part (B.M. 24772). In B.M. 3077 gold shells are ranged at intervals among the beads, and the gold pendants are in the form of the lock of hair-which is symbolic of youth-and fish. From the centre pendant, a lotus flower inlaid with green and red stones, hangs a sub-pendant in gold, heḥ, signifying a “hundred thousand years." In In many necklaces the pendant †, nefer, is very common,


but it is often mixed with beads of a much later period (B.M. 18172); this is due to modern stringing. In some of the best necklaces both beads and pendants are made of the same material. B.M. 3097 the beads are made of dark carnelian and the pendants of light carnelian, the latter having the forms of the foot and leg, the hand, the face, the utchat, the bee (or hornet)

, the fish, and the nefer. In the Graeco-Roman Period necklaces made of glass beads with gilded insides were very popular, and of these B.M. 35119 is a good example. In the same period the ends of long oval beads were often set in little caps of gold, and a central bar with a pendant and gold bosses set with stones hanging from it is often seen (B.M. 24772). Necklaces made of porcelain beads glazed in various colours were very common in

all periods, but to give anything like an adequate description of them a volume would be necessary. In the late Roman Period glass and gold were the materials chiefly used for beads.

Rings were made of gold, silver, bronze, carnelian, agate of various kinds, green and blue-glazed porcelain, etc. Interesting examples1 in gold are: Massive gold ring with bezel in the form of a cylinder of blue glass set in a gold mount (B.M. 2922). Gold ring with the signs repeated several times on the outside in gold wire after the manner of the modern West African "Zodiac " rings; the is inlaid with lapis-lazuli (B.M. 54533). Massive gold ring inscribed with the prenomen of Amenḥetep IV, (B.M. 37644). Gold ring with blue


[ocr errors]


glass scarab in a gold frame set as a bezel; the inscription reads:

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Maatkarā (Ḥatshepsut), flesh and bone of Amen-Rā "

[blocks in formation]

(B.M. 2933). Thick hollow gold split ring with the in wire-work in a rectangular

cartouche M

cavity (B.M. 54459). Gold ring with rectangular bezel with a human-headed hawk inlaid (B.M. 20871). Gold ring with rectangular bezel in lapis-lazuli inscribed with the figure of a man-headed lion, wearing the crown and trampling upon

a prostrate foe. On the obverse and reverse are the names and ค

titles of Thothmes III, 3 18

[ocr errors]


(B.M. 4349). Gold ring with rectangular bezel on which are cut figures of two gods adoring the cartouche of Amenḥetep II and between them the sign† (B.M. 54549).

Massive gold ring inscribed with

of Ra, Ptolemy, living for ever,

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

the name of the son

beloved of Ptaḥ,"
beloved of Ptaḥ,"

[blocks in formation]

Gold ring of the Ptolemaïc Period with figures of Isis (?), Osiris (?) and Sarapis (B.M. 2965). In silver may be noted the ring with large, circular bezel stamp of a priest and libationer with two

1 See Section III, Signet-rings and stamps, in Hall, Catalogue of Egyptian Scarabs, p. 273 ff.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

ring with a figure of Isis cut on the bezel (B.M. 29036); a small ring with cut on the bezel (B.M. 54604); others inscribed with the figure of a fish (B.M. 5460), and with the title "Mut lady of heaven and the Two Lands," The bezel of the

chalcedony ring (B.M. 54605) is inscribed with a flower. Under the XVIIIth dynasty a large number of pretty blue and green glazed porcelain rings were produced, and those with hollowwork bezels are specially interesting. Sometimes the figure represented is Thoueris (B.M. 54556), sometimes Osiris with figures of Isis and Nephthys in a boat (B.M. 54594), but usually the subject chosen is floral in character (B.M. 3071). There are many varieties of porcelain rings with solid bezels, and on these we have floral devices (B.M. 54575), or a raised ornament (B.M. 54576), or the utchat (B.M. 54574), or stamped inscriptions (B.M. 24179)

relating to the cult of Åmen-Rã, or to the Disk Imm†

(B.M. 27386). Many rings, in addition to the common decoration of lotus buds, have on them the figure of a cat with several kittens (B.M. 17842, 54645), or an ichneumon (B.M. 21931), or a hawk (B.M. 24762), or an aegis of Bast (B.M. 3064, 3063, 29032), or of a goddess wearing the double crown (B.M. 54644). Among the glazed porcelain rings are several examples that have attached to them an elongated stamp-seal, which when the ring was worn must have covered the upper parts of three or four fingers. One of these, a fine example in a rich blue-coloured glaze, was evidently worn on New Year's Day, for the inscription reads, " May every year

begin (or open) happily,” ♡ ↓ (read {«) †


(B.M. 36459). Another class records the names and titles of "Amen-Rā, Governor of the Company of the gods, great god, lord of heaven, giver of life and happiness,"


1990 ZAŤ‡ (B.M. 29220).


And yet another class records the name and titles of the goddess "Mut, the lady of heaven, Mistress of the gods, Lady of Asher,"

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

(B.M. 36458, 28467). The ring in hard green stone (B.M. 54340) has a bezel in the form of a cartouche inscribed with the following

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

The ancient Egyptians, like their modern successors, and Africans generally, wore armlets, bracelets and anklets made of gold or silver, sometimes inlaid with turquoise, garnets, carnelians and other coloured stones, and lapis-lazuli and the paste made from it, and ivory. Some of the bracelets made under the XVIIIth dynasty were very heavy, e.g., those of Queen Hatshepsut, each of which weighed more than half a pound avoirdupois. Men as well as women wore beautiful bracelets, as we see from the monuments. A handsome product of the goldsmith's art is the pair of gold bracelets, inlaid with lapis-lazuli and lapis-lazuli paste (B.M. 14594, 14595). The centres are decorated with figures of Harpokrates sitting on a lotus flower between two uraei wearing disks. Inside is cut an inscription in hieroglyphs stating that these bracelets were made for the "princess Patareshnes, the daughter of the chief of all the bowmen Nemareth, whose mother was the daughter of the great chief of the Libyan

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

descendant in the fifth generation of Buiu-uaua, a Libyan prince, and the father of Shashanq (Shishak of I Kings xiv, 25), King of Egypt about B.C. 966.


THE cylindrical seal was in use in Egypt before dynastic civilization began, and there is good reason for believing that it is of indigenous origin; but when it first made its appearance cannot be said. It was thought at one time that the Egyptians borrowed it from the Babylonians, but the discovery of cylindrical seals made of wood and ivory in pre-dynastic graves makes this view untenable. The Egyptians and the Babylonians may have borrowed it from the same source, but there is no evidence to show that either nation borrowed it from the other. The oldest seal-cylinders are made of wood or ivory, but steatite was soon found to be more durable, and the greater number of those that were made after the VIth dynasty were of glazed or unglazed steatite. A few are known of copper, and a few are made of a blue paste composition. They vary in length from half or three-quarters of an inch to nearly four inches in length, and in their diameter, which is usually uniform throughout, from a quarter of an inch to nearly one inch. They are usually pierced like bugle-beads, for they were carried on a string or wire, and when unpierced a small hollow was made at each of the flat ends to catch

« PreviousContinue »