The Powerhouse acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the ancestral homelands upon which our museums are situated. We respect their Elders, past, present and future and recognise their continuous connection to Country.
11117-2 Amulet, green glaze, earthenware / glaze, maker unknown, Egypt, 26th Dynasty, 664-525 BCE. Click to enlarge.

Egyptian Faience Amulet

Made
Amulet made entirely out of faience and demonstrates the characteristic green glaze finish. Evidence of wear is evident with a slight chip on the top rim, while traces of brown patina is evident in patches on the surface. The top part of the object illustrates a small loop from which the pendant may be hung, while the exterior surface of the suspension loop illustrates 4 decorative indentations. Below the loop, an indentation demarcates the splayed and protruding upper rim.Directly beneath the …

Summary

Object No.

11117-2

Object Statement

Amulet, green glaze, earthenware / glaze, maker unknown, Egypt, 26th Dynasty, 664-525 BCE

Physical Description

Amulet made entirely out of faience and demonstrates the characteristic green glaze finish. Evidence of wear is evident with a slight chip on the top rim, while traces of brown patina is evident in patches on the surface. The top part of the object illustrates a small loop from which the pendant may be hung, while the exterior surface of the suspension loop illustrates 4 decorative indentations. Below the loop, an indentation demarcates the splayed and protruding upper rim.Directly beneath the splayed rim is another more subtle demarcation marking out a decorative continuation of the upper part of the object. The body for the most part is cylindrical and results in tapered and narrow of the bottom area, resulting in a blunt tip.

Dimensions

Width

14 mm

Production

Made

Notes

One of the most common materials used to produce amulets of this type was faience, although there are many other examples of such objects made of various semi-precious stones and precious metals. Egyptian faience is essentially a non-clay ceramic paste, mixed together with crushed quartz, silica and sand, a small amount of calcite lime, a mixture of alkalis, potash (mostly from plant ash) and copper oxide. Like glass faience is a mixture of alkalai and silica but has more silica and less alkali than true glass. The chemical composition of faience did vary over time but was generally consistent. The objects were always fired and resulted in the vitrification of material produced in an array of bright blue, green or blue-green lustrous glassy surfaces.

The most common manufacturing method of faience was the technique of application. This technique involved the application of the paste to a quartz core. This core was probably reduced to shape by abrasion and the paste would normally be applied over it. The paste would have been mailable and of a similar texture to modelling clay and would have been worked by hand, or in the case of pottery was thrown on the wheel. Once worked the smaller objects would have then been pressed into a small mould to gain the desired shape. After this had been achieved it would have been removed, the excess trimmed away and finer details added before it was fired in a kiln, where the chemical components would react with each other causing the glaze to rise to the surface hence resulting in the brilliant colour and glass like surface. Other manufacturing techniques of faience were Efflorescence (a self glazing method) and Cementation (which involved the application of a glazing powder). Pendants of this type were most likely produced by the method of application and were mass produced, a process which mould pressing could accommodate since the moulds could produce repetitions of the same motif over and over again.

In the ancient world Egyptian faience slabs and faience products (such as bowls, figurines, vases, tiles etc.) were manufactured and exported from Egypt throughout the Mediterranean, Middle East and Northern Europe.

History

Notes

The invention of faience was a great step in the technology of glassmaking. Faience objects first appeared in burial contexts dating from Predynastic Egypt some 4000-5000 years ago. They continued to be produced throughout Pharonic, Hellenistic and Roman times. The first type of faience objects were mostly beads and were thought to have been produced as a substitute for blue-green semi-precious stones such as turquoise and lapis lazuli. As the crafting skills of the manufacturers developed in the Middle and New Kingdoms a greater variety of objects were made such as bowls, jars, jugs, votive offerings and even architectural ornaments. Faience and glass workshops were representative of thriving glass crafting communities seen in the archaeological evidence from the sites of Tell Amarna, Abydos, Memphis and Naucratis, where ancient glass and faience manufacturing workshops have been identified.

The symbolic colour of faience was thought to have magical properties as the blue hues were perceived by some to recall the Nile, while the green could have represented regeneration, rebirth and vegetation like the papyrus rushes along the banks of the sacred river. The theme of magical properties of faience is carried through to the creation of various talismans and pendants such as the one represented here. Such pendants, amulets or talismans take many forms and were thought to have an array of magical powers. The amulet or talisman could have been worn by a person as a pendant, hung in various places or included in prayer rites for the protection against harm or to promote good luck in areas such as health, fertility, love honour, wealth and power.

Faience pendants were mass produced in their thousands and take on many variable human or animal forms. Very common human parts are the eye, the ear and the hands, while animal representations are just as varied illustrating examples of scarabs, fish, scorpions, baboons, hedgehogs, hippopotamus and aquatic plants such as the papyrus. There are even examples of domestic vessels such as amphorae.

Cite this Object

Harvard

Egyptian Faience Amulet 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 3 December 2021, <https://ma.as/1337>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/1337 |title=Egyptian Faience Amulet |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=3 December 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}