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Beadnet dress

Egyptian
2551–2528 B.C.


Findspot, Giza, Egypt

Dimensions

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.)

Accession Number

27.1548.1

Medium or Technique

Faience

On View

Egypt: Old Kingdom Funerary Arts Gallery (Gallery 105B)

Collections

Textiles and Fashion Arts, The Ancient World

Classifications

Costumes

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.

Provenance

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)

Credit Line

Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition