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HOME : Egyptian Antiquities : Masterpieces of Egyptian Art : Group of five faience cosmetic lidded cups
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Group of five faience cosmetic lidded cups - X.0733
Origin: Egypt
Circa: 664 BC to 343 BC
Dimensions: 2" (5.1cm) high
Collection: Egyptian antiquities
Style: Late Dynastic Period
Medium: Faience


Location: Great Britain
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Description
Faience, the use of which dates back to pre- dynastic times, is a glasslike non-clay substance made of materials common to Egypt: ground quartz, crushed quartz pebbles, flint, a soluble salt-like baking soda and lime. Colour varied, with the most common colour being blue, which was achieved through the application of ground copper. Called tjehnet by the ancient Egyptians (meaning that which is brilliant or scintillating) faience was thought to be endowed with the immortal light of the sun, moon and stars, and was believed to be symbolic of rebirth. The associations of faience were so strong that it is often associated with burial contexts, guaranteeing some form of immortality for the deceased. Various objects, from ushabtis to tiny models of household articles, were commonly made from faience and placed in tombs. The present artefacts were presumably made and deposited with this same ambition in mind, but they nevertheless are very unusual as finds, especially in their almost perfect state of preservation. The bodies of the vessels are flared out from small pedestal bases to form a generally rounded profile, heading to near vertical sides in the upper 1/3 of the vessel. Colour is an excellent and uniform turquoise. Each vessel has a small, disc-shaped lid and is marked with short hieroglyphic texts that are believed to express either the contents of the vessel, or alternatively some form of benediction for the interred individual. These vessels were usually used to contain valuable unguents; the presence of lids places them after the sixth dynasty, when this shape became traditional. Considering the diminutive size of these containers, they most probably functioned specifically as a funerary offerings, an interpretation consistent with the material and the presence of texts. - (X.0733)

 

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