A superb Egyptian Floral Bead Necklace, New Kingdom, Amarna Period, ca. 1352 - 1336 BCE
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This superb necklace of brightly colored faience ring beads, is re-strung with representations of fruit, flowers and parts of plants that were a durable version of the elaborate perishable floral collars worn by banquet guests during the Eighteenth Dynasty. Made almost exclusively of flat-backed multicolored glazed composition, and with a suspension loop at the top and sometimes at the bottom too, they were usually strung to form openwork broad collar. With probable amuletic significance, these floral elements were the most frequently worn pieces of jewelry among the royalty and elite during this time. Individually made in molds, the beads in this example include white lotus petals, carnelian cornflowers, red and blue dates, yellow mandrake fruits, flower petals in bright blue, green and yellow, a white daisy, dom-palm leaves and grape bunches. All growing plants were inherently symbolic of new life, but some flowers also open each morning, reconfirming the idea of resurrection.
For a related example see: The Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, inv. no. 31261. and C. Andrews, Ancient Egyptian Jewellery, London, 1990, pp. 122-3, fig. 105 (a broad collar with similar mandrake fruit found at el-Amarna.) and a collar in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, with similar date and lotus petal beads: acc. no. 40.2.5.
Akhenaten and Nefertiti are frequently shown wearing board collars featuring such bead pendants. For example, the Berlin bust of Nefertiti shows the queen wearing a broad collar with mandrake fruit: cf. D. Wildung (et. al.), Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection, Berlin, Berlin, 2010, p. 106-7, fig. 56. The small painted relief also in Berlin shows the king and queen wearing elaborate floral polychrome collars of such beads: op.cit., pp. 102-3, figs. 52-3.
Dimensions: Length: 17 inches (44 cm)
Condition: Restrung as a necklace rather than the usual broadcollar, the components are intact and in excellent condition overall.
Provenance: Private collection of a NJ Optometrist. Ex. Sotheby Parke Bernet, 3/20/1968, lot #52 (part) and Foxwell private collection (U.K), acquired between 1930 and 1950 (part).