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* An Egyptian Lapis Lazuli Bead Pendant, Middle Kingdom, ca. 2040 - 1786 BCE

L1904

Of long, triangular form, this lovely lapis lazuli bead is of fine, deep celestial-blue sprinkled with flecks of gold, hand-carved and polished to a lustrous finish.

Background:  The color of the all-embracing night sky, lapis lazuli was the symbol of royalty and honor, gods and power, spirit and vision and the most highly prized of all the Egyptians semi-precious stones.  It was imported at all times, even during the Predynastic Period, from Badakhshan in north-east Afghanistan.  In the Late Period the principal word for this stone, khesbed, was used as a synonym for 'joy' and 'delight'. An amuletic serekh bead of lapis lazuli was found in the tomb of the First Dynasty pharaoh Djer at Abydos and tiny lapis lazuli amulets are particularly characteristic of the Late Period. 

Dimensions:  Strung on a 16-inch silver chain

Condition:  Intact and in excellent condition overall.

Provenance:  Sotheby's London, Antiquities, 4 May, 1970, Lot 42 (part)


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