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EJ1510

An Egyptian Faience Necklace with Leopard Bead, New Kingdom, 1550-1069 BC

This necklace resembles a "string-tie" but the leopard head "slide" is fixed and cannot be slipped up and down over the beads. The beads are simple ring beads of yellow, red, blue, green and black and the floral terminals imitate jasmine blossoms.  The role of the leopard in ancient Egyptian religion is disputed. One speculation asserts that the leopard was a primeval sky goddess, with the stars being the spots on her coat. A protective, apotropaic function for the leopard may be traced back to the Old Kingdom, when a leopard skin was sometimes represented in relief on top of stone sarcophagi. The leopard head motif in the form documented in this example makes its first appearance in the design of jewellery in the Middle Kingdom and continues into the New Kingdom.

This necklace is similar to one of three excavated from the New Kingdom cemetery at el Ahaiwah and now at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. A fourth, discovered in an Eighteenth-Dynasty grave at Abydos was restrung (as has this example) in accordance with the arrangement of one of the el Ahaiwah examples found actually in position.

Bibliography: D'Auria, Sue, Lacovara, Peter, Roehrig, Catharine H. 'Mummies & Magic: The Funerary Arts of Ancient Egypt', Museum of Fine Arts Boston (1988) page 240, #320

Condition: The necklace has been restrung, one of the jasmine terminals reconstructed otherwise all beads are intact and in excellent condition overall.

Dimensions: Height: 13 3/8 inch (34 cm) drop

Provenance: Private NY collection, acquired Ancient World Arts, NY in 1994 thereafter on loan to the Michael C. Carlos museum, Emory University from 1998 - 2015, loan number: L1998.062.119

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