Old Kingdom, Dynasty 4, reign of Khufu
Findspot: Giza, Egypt
Overall: 44 x 113cm (17 5/16 x 44 1/2in.) Mount: 139.7 x 31.8 x 17.8 cm (55 x 12 1/2 x 7 in.)
Medium or Technique
Egypt: Old Kingdom Funerary Arts Gallery (Gallery 105B)
Depictions of women in Egyptian art occasionally feature garments decorated with an overall lozenge pattern. This design is believed to represent beadwork, which was either sewn onto a linen dress or worked into a separate net worn over the linen. This beadnet dress is the earliest surviving example of such a garment. It has been painstakingly reassembled from approximately seven thousand beads found in an undisturbed burial of a female contemporary of King Khufu. Although their string had disintegrated, a few beads still lay in their original pattern on and around the mummy, permitting an accurate reconstruction. The color of the beads has faded, but the beadnet was originally blue and blue green in imitation of lapis lazuli and turquoise.
From Giza, tomb G 7440 Z. 1927: excavated by the Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; 1927: assigned to the MFA by the government of Egypt. (Accession Date: May 27, 1987)
Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition