Egyptian Faience Group of Pendants
Period: New Kingdom (Amarna Period, 1353-1320 B.C.)
Dimensions: Dim. (largest bead): 1.7 cm
Price: CHF 120'000
Ex-Baron Empain (1852-1929) collection, Belgium.
Aside from a few pieces whose surface is slightly worn, the beads are intact and still largely retain their boriginal luster.
The group is composed of eighteen necklace beads, including eleven yellow circular fruits with blue feet and leaves (the fruit of the Mandragora or, according to others, of the Mimusops, which Egyptians believed to have an aphrodisiac power), three wine grapes (see (21)), a nefer sign (a sign of good omen that involves the concepts of goodness and beauty a bird (a swallow?), an amulet composed of four udjateyes (see (69) and (80)), and a fl ared bead with vertical grooves, reminiscent of a flower.
The fruits of the Mandragora were made of two different pastes, a yellow one and a blue for the foot and the leaves, which were placed before firing in a slightly hollowed area. The suspension rings were also modeled separately and assembled later. Mounted in several rows, these beads would have constituted large necklaces that were particularly popular in the New Kingdom, as evidenced, for instance, by contemporary representations on statues, frescoes, and ushabtis.
The Amarna period, marked by many changes, must have been a great challenge for contemporary artists, who had to adapt in very little time to the directives imposed by the new rulers. Art in this period is characterized both by the realistic, sometimes grotesque, representation of all figures (including those of the royal family) and by the varied representations of nature that convey a sense of delicacy and naturalism, rich in elements and colors which, as admirably demonstrated by these small faience pendants, still retain their bright shine (see also (24)).
On other contemporary faience necklaces:
ANDREWS C., Ancient Egyptian Jewellery, (London, 1990), p. 122-123, fi g. 105.
ANDREWS C., Objects for Eternity, Egyptian Antiquities from the W. A. Meijer Collection, (Mainz/Rhine, 2006), p. 98, no. 2.17.
HERMANN C. – STAUBLI T., 1001 Amulett, Altägyptischer Zauber, monotheisierte Talismane, säkulare Magie, (Fribourg, 2010).
WIESE A., Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig, Die Ägyptische Abteilung, (Mainz/Rhine, 2001), p. 82.
On art in the Amarna period:
FREED R. E., Pharaohs of the Sun, Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tutankhamen, (Boston, 1999), pp. 131-143.