Ancient Egyptian Jewelry styles and trends

Ancient Egyptian Jewelry styles and tren

Ancient Egyptian Jewelry styles and trends

by Shalini Kagal

Egyptian jewelry has been around for as long as the pyramids themselves and has traveled a long journey commencing from the time of the pharaohs to this modern era. The most interesting aspect of ancient Egyptian jewelry trends is that it was worn in abundance by women as well men. Ancient Egyptian jewelry is noted for its stylized forms as well as its rich and bright colors.

Egyptian jewelry has been around
for as long as the pyramids
themselves and has traveled a long
journey commencing from the time of
the pharaohs to this modern era. The
most interesting aspect of ancient
Egyptian jewelry trends is that it
was worn in abundance by women as
well men. Ancient Egyptian jewelry
is noted for its stylized forms as
well as its rich and bright colors.

The ancient Egyptians wore jewelry
primarily to ward off magic spells
and protect themselves from evil.
Their jewelry was fashioned out of
various minerals and stones because
of their immense belief in lucky
stones and the power of other
assorted stones and minerals. The
necklaces, bracelets, earrings,
rings and anklets were made of an
assortment of beads put together in
interesting patterns. The choice of
materials that was used for creating
jewelry pieces was more often based
on religious beliefs and symbolism.
The choice of color was particularly
symbolic and was given prime
importance. The color green was
often used to signify prosperity and
fertility.

Though it was common for people from
all classes of society to wear
jewelry, the elite class wore
special jewelry that was rich and
comprised of uncommon materials and
stones. In fact social status was
determined by the style of jewelry
worn. The elite class only wore
jewelry that was made of gold and
silver and even their pins, belts
and buckles along with their
necklaces, rings and bracelets were
only made of these metals. However,
stones remained the most important
component of their jewelry.
Ancient egyptian jewelry
Ancient Egyptian jewelry made its
mark during the Naqari and Badari
eras. During that time the materials
used were mainly got from natural
resources including various wood,
perforated stones, horns, bones and
even plant branches. Rings made of
stone or horn were very popular
before different metals were
discovered. It was only during later
eras that jewelry craftsman began
creating jewelry using metals such
as silver, gold and copper. However,
the use of metals in jewelry was
limited because of the dangerous
prevalent mining conditions. The
‘Ankh’ became the most popular
symbol of this period though other
symbols including falcons and lotus
flowers were also commonly used to
express various emotions.

The true origins of Egyptian jewelry
commenced only when precious metals
were finally accessible to the
people. Safer and easier methods
replaced the difficult and dangerous
missions that were carried out for
extracting metals, making gold and
silver more easily available during
the New Kingdom and giving the art
of jewelry-making a much required
boost. The dynastic eras saw a
predominance of an assortment of
minerals, metals and precious stones
in a stunning variety of colors.
Silver remained the preferred metal
amongst the Egyptians until the time
of the Middle Kingdom after which
gold took over as the most favored
metal. There was an over-abundance
of gold during this era and it was
used in everything from statues and
furniture to vessels. It finally
began to be used in jewelry, but it
was only when the craftsmen mastered
the technical methods and precision
required to create jewelry pieces
that jewelry making reached its
zenith.

Though other materials including
turquoise, amethyst, garnet,
cornelian, opal and feldspar were
commonly used in ancient Egyptian
jewelry, Lapis lazuli remained a
special favorite. Man-made resources
such as various glazed objects and
colored glass designed to simulate
the appearance of precious stones
were also used by artisans to create
beautifully designed and colored
jewelry. These ornaments were
primarily fashioned keeping religion
and religious sentiments in mind.
Religious icons and symbols were
often crafted into some form of
jewelry.

The ancient Egyptians often buried
jewelry and adornments along with
their deceased. The Scarab, the
predominant symbol of rebirth at the
time, was one of the most favored
pieces of jewelry that was buried
with the dead. Almost all pieces of
ancient Egyptian jewelry that has
been discovered were those that were
entombed including wreaths, hair
bands and combs.

The pharaohs preferred to wear
specially created gold jewelry
embedded with semi-precious
materials in the belief that it
enhanced their personality. The
jewelry pieces that were favored and
worn daily by any pharaoh were
buried along with their dead body.
Thousands of years later an amazing
assortment of gold jewelry including
gold necklaces, rings, crowns,
earrings and vests were found in
abundance from ‘mummies’ or the dead
bodies that had been carefully
embalmed and preserved. The vest was
a thick gold plate that was
popularly worn around the chest
during that time.

Two of the most common symbols used
in Egyptian jewelry are the
Cartouche and the Ankh. The Ankh
signifies life in ancient
hieroglyphic terms and is a very
popular feature seen in most
Egyptian jewelry. Also referred to
as the Egyptian Cross, the Ankh
symbol pre-dates most pagan symbols
as well as the cross by thousands of
years, yet has managed to survive to
present times as a powerful symbol
of Life. The form of the Ankh as
well as its timeless meaning has
contributed to its global appeal and
it is popularly worn all over the
world as an external affirmation of
life. Egyptian gods are commonly
portrayed bearing an Ankh in each
hand.

The Cartouche signifies divine
royalty and in ancient Egypt it was
the symbol within which a pharaoh’s
name was enclosed. Cartouche jewelry
in ancient Egypt was especially
reserved only for the kings and
pharaohs, and featured the king’s or
pharaoh’s name encased by an oval
shape. The ancient Egyptians firmly
believed that their pharaohs and
kings were descended directly from
the gods, particularly the sun god,
Ra. So, while anybody’s name could
be hieroglyphically spelled, only
the names of the gods, pharaohs and
other royalty could be enclosed in
the oval-shaped cartouche symbol.
Originally round, the cartouche
symbol was later elongated over a
period of time to accommodate the
decidedly longer names of the
later-day pharaohs. The shape is a
symbol of a rope that is tied up at
one end and encircles the pharaoh’s
name. It signified the pharaoh’s
divine rule and his reign over
everything that exists in the
cosmos.

Reference

Ancient Egypt

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Jewelry_Museum


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