This group of seven figural plaques in turquoise-blue faience, now in part weathered a taffy-colored brown, consist of two cobras, or sacred uraei, facing in opposite directions, one two-looped and the other one-looped. There are two djed-pillars, described by some as representations of the spinal column of Osiris and by others as reeds bundled together, and three cartouches, or royal rings, without inscription, each crowned by two ostrich feathers. The shape of the inlays with their flat sides perpendicular to their un-worked flat backs suggests their use as inlays set into wooden panels perhaps serving to decorate furniture or shrines. The repeated motifs suggest that these inlays were composed into one or more identical hieroglyphic phrases which were repeated decoratively around the object they adorned.
The use of inlays has a long tradition in ancient Egyptian art, but prior to Dynasty XXVI, each such element was relatively small in size. The scale of our ensemble, therefore, indicates that these seven inlays were created either during Dynasty XXVI or later, when such large-scale inlays were extremely fashionable. Although not inscribed, our inlays belong to a well-known series, one example of which was inscribed with hieroglyphs which seemed to indicate a dating within Dynasty XXVII (525-404 BC) for the group. One has suggested that these inlays were used to decorate a deluxe object associated with a Phoenician grandee associated with the Persian overlords of Egypt. These individuals appropriated ancient Egyptian norms as their own as symbols of their status and wealth.
See Robert Steven Bianchi and Florence D. Friedman in F. D. Friedman [editor], Gifts of the Nile. Ancient Egyptian Faience (Providence 1998), cat. no. 61.