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HOME : Egyptian Antiquities : Masterpieces of Egyptian Art : Faience Cosmetic Jar
Faience Cosmetic Jar - X.0507
Origin: Egypt
Circa: 1295 BC to 1185 BC
Dimensions: 2.2" (5.6cm) high x 1.2" (3.0cm) wide
Collection: Egyptian
Medium: Faience

Location: Great Britain
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This delightfully small, cylindrically-shaped, faience beaker exhibits a slightly everted mouth, a disc-shaped lip and a protruding off-set foot. There are two columns of hieroglyphs of a lighter turquoise-blue color set into a rectangular frame on one side of the rich, darker blue colour of the vessel itself. Although the hieroglyphs are somewhat faded and some of the signs within the cartouche, or royal ring, are indistinct, the traces of what remain suggest that the cartouche contains the name of one of the kings of Dynasty XIX, and these remains plausibly suggest that that name may have been one of the forms of the prenomen of Sety I, the decoration of whose tomb in the Valley of the Kings ranks among the dynasty’s finest.

The Lord of the Two Lands [is the pharaoh] Sety I, who is the one beloved of the god Sokar

Such beakers were extremely popular during Dynasty XVIII and variations continued to be created into the Third Intermediate Period and beyond. It is assumed that these vessels were funerary in nature. That suggestion is supported by the mention of the god Sokar on our example because Sokar was originally a funerary deity worshipped at Memphis whose cult was later assimilated into that of Osiris. The two-tone blue color of the faience itself reinforces the funerary symbolism of the vessel because of the associations of that colour with both resurrection and rebirth. It is assumed that such beakers, because of their small size, originally contained precious unguents and balms which were associated with the funerary cults of the deceased. Although ostensibly inscribed with the name of Sety I, our vessel was not necessarily part of his own funerary equipment. Objects such as this might also have been dedicated in sanctuaries for the continued well-being of the dedicator in the Hereafter.


There is a virtually identical example in the famed Miho Museum in Japan which bears the prenomen of Sety I, and forms the basis for our proposed reconstruction of the hieroglyhphs within the cartouche of our example: Sidney Merrill Goldstein, Ancient Glass (Miho Museum 2001, page 192, catalogue number 18. Ian Shaw and Paul Nicholson, British Museum Dictionary of Ancient Egypt (London 1995), pages 273-274, for a discussion of the god Sokar; and R. S. Bianchi, in Florence D. Friedman (editor), Gifts of the Nile. Ancient Egyptian Faience (Providence 1998), page 198, catalogue number 57, for a discussion of the type.

- (X.0507)


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