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Egyptian Mummy beads
Bury me with my beads on !!
Egyptian burial sites have yielded enormous quantities of beads in many varieties. Since beads were such an integral part of the culture, they paint a poignant picture of an idealistic people, surprisingly sophisticated, yet bound by superstition. Beads were commonly worn to protect the wearer from misfortune, rather than to express status or wealth. In fact, the Egyptian word for luck was "SHA", and "SHA SHA" came to be the word for bead. The ravenous royal appetite for jewelry kept many artisans employed and brought about a rapid acceleration of technology and craftsmanship. During the height of ancient Egyptian culture, virtually everyone wore beads; king and commoner, male and female, young and old. Those who had the means not only wore beaded collars and girdles, but shawls and whole garments of woven beads. Beads were used to cover any and all body parts. Even statues were draped with beads during this era of unprecedented splendor. When baked at high temperatures the clay constituents formed a glossy crust. The color of this "glaze" was influenced by the balance of minerals in the clay. Copper salts gave a blue color, and "fake turquoise" became enormously popular. Cobalt provided a darker blue and manganese produced shades of purple to black. Iron created greenish hues, and other clays afforded yellows, ochre's and even pinks. The paste was rolled around a string and then cut into sections . . .thin discs or longer tubular shapes. When the sections were baked, the string burned away leaving a bead. Faience beads were extensively produced, and became widely available. Strung with gold spacers they were worn as earrings, bracelets, anklets and multi-stranded collars and aprons. Faience became so inexpensive; strands were given as favors at banquets. Faience paste was also pressed in molds and baked to form amulets. With the eventual decline of the dynastic period, strict funerary cults emerged to dictate the expression of religion through elaborate burial rites. During the later period, faience beads were produced almost exclusively for funerary use and some mummies were buried with thousands of beads. Thus the tombs that were designed to defend their tenants against the erosion of time have become windows through which we peer into the very heart of an ancient culture.