Bead belt of spheroids, tubular and cylinder beads with wedjet eye as a centre piece. Middle Kingdom. From a female burial at Qau.
Dancing girls are sometimes depicted wearing girdles, though women of higher status are not shown wearing them. However, cowrie shell bead girdles are found in the tombs of 12th Dynasty royal women (Aldred 1971, figs. 33, 35 and 48).
Wellcome Institute document WA/HMM/CM/col 81 reads: ‘Jewellery from an intact XII dynasty burial (female) from Qau, Upper Egypt 1923 tomb number 734 comprising-…58224 Waist girdle, cornelian ball beads with eye amulet 25 inch…’ It seems this item was given to Henry Wellcome for his support of the Egypt Exploration Society Excavations.
This item comes from Guy Brunton’s excavation at Qau (Brunton 1930, 1). The excavation report describes: ‘Adult female, extended on left side….Round the waist…a string…of carnelian spheroids with one uzat, one barrel, and one cylinder, all carnelian….’. The Egypt Centre has other items from this grave (W793-W796), as does the Petrie Museum (UC25981-5).
This item is made of cornelian (carnelian). Cornelian is found at various sites in Egypt to the east of the Nile. Cornelian was associated with blood and therefore life, but also with the god Seth.
Aldred, C. 1971. Jewels of the Pharaohs. London: Thames and Hudson.
Brunton, G. 1930. Qau and Badari III. London: British School of Archaeology in Egypt.
Brovarski, E. Doll, S.K. and Freed, R. E. 1982. Egypt‘s Golden Age. The Art of Living in the New Kingdom. 1558-1085 BC. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts Boston, 242-243.