Large hollow ball beads of azure faience and pierced for stringing, have their origin in the Middle Kingdom. These spheres have either alternating sectors of blue and black or, such as this example, have a striped black pigment applied to the blue faience. They may have been worn in a variety of ways, for instance, singularly or in multiples around the neck, strung with smaller beads fastened to the top of the head or suspended from the bottom of a single plait of hair. The method of manufacture of hollow faience balls has been the subject of speculation. Verges has suggested that closed, hollow faience forms could be made using the "a noyau perdu" technique. In this method, a suitable vegetable material, such as reed, is compacted into the desired shape and then covered with a faience paste. On heating, the organic material is reduced to ash, leaving an essentially hollow core. Evidence of this technique an be found on the inner surface of broken beads where impressions of reed fibers care clearly visible.
See: Friedman, Florence Dunn 'Gifts of the Nile : Ancient Egyptian Faience', T & H (1998), #81. Pg 212, & #190, pg 259
Dimensions: Height: 1 15/16" (5 cm)
Condition: With signs of stringing use, intact and in very good condition overall
Provenance: On loan to the Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University from 1998 - 2015, loan number: L1998.062.029