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HOME : Egyptian Antiquities : Archive : Pair of Egyptian Faience Royal Jars
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Pair of Egyptian Faience Royal Jars - X.0006
Origin: Egypt
Circa: 1301 BC to 1234 BC
Dimensions: 2.125" (5.4cm) high
Collection: Egyptian
Medium: Faience

Additional Information: SOLD

Location: United States
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Faience, which dates back to pre-dynastic times, of at least 5,000 years, is a glasslike non-clay substance made of materials common to Egypt: ground quartz, crushed quartz pebbles, flint, a soluble salt-like baking soda, lime and ground copper, which provided the characteristic color. The dried objects went into kilns looking pale and colorless but emerged a sparkling "Egyptian blue." Called tjehnet by the ancient Egyptians, meaning that which is brilliant or scintillating, faience was thought to be filled with the undying light of the sun, moon and stars and was symbolic of rebirth. Ancient Egyptians believed the small blue-green objects helped prepare them for eternity in the afterlife.

The simple, slightly flaring cylindrical shape of these vessels belies the regal splendor of the pair. Although the material, a brilliant turquoise-hued faience that remains remarkably vibrant today, is certainly associated with the pharaoh, it is the presence of two columns of hieroglyphic text painted on each jar in black glaze that reveals the true nature of these works. Although the texts are different, they both mention the name of Ramses II, the fourth pharaoh of the nineteenth dynasty. Better known today as Ramses the Great, Ramses II is famed for his monumental constructions including a mortuary complex at Abydos and the Hypostyle Hall at Karnac, the Ramesseum, and most notably, the Colossus of Ramses at Memphis. Might these jars have once belonged to the legendary pharaoh himself? Possibly, but considering the humble stature of these pieces compared to his monumental constructions, it is far likelier that these containers would have once belonged to one of his wives or consorts, who were said to number over two hundred. Thus, these gorgeous jars may have once held ointments and cosmetics inside them that one of his wife’s may have once applied to her face as she awaited the company of Ramses the Great.
- (X.0006)


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