Counterpoise

Egyptian
Old Kingdom, Dynasty 5
2465–2323 B.C.


Findspot: Egypt, Giza, Tomb G 2422 D & Tomb G 2416 D III

Dimensions

Height x width x depth: 15 x 3.5 x 0.4 cm (5 7/8 x 1 3/8 x 3/16 in.)

Accession Number

37.1312

Medium or Technique

Faience

On View

Ancient Egyptian Large Sculpture (Mycerinus) (Gallery 108)

Collections

Jewelry, The Ancient World

Classifications

Necklaces and neck bands

For both men and women alike, jewelry added interest and color to garments of undyed linen. The parure shown here, which consists of a collar, counterpoise, and pair of bracelets, was restrung from elements of blue, green, and black faience left behind by robbers in an otherwise empty, plain wooden coffin. The colors were the most commonly used in making the ceramic during the Old Kingdom.

The broadcollar was the most common type of Old Kingdom jewelry. At Giza alone, George Reisner found nineteen such collars in tombs of both men and women. In addition, brightly painted broadcollars are represented on statuary and reliefs of deities, royalty, and wealthy private individuals from the Old Kingdom through Roman times. Although jewelry was often made for funerary purposes only, in this case the presence of the counterpoise that served to redistribute the weight of the collar and to ensure that it hung properly suggests that this example was worn in life as well.

Provenance

From Giza, tombs G 2422 D and G 2416 D III). 1936: excavated by the Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; assigned to the MFA in the division of finds by the government of Egypt.
(Accession Date: August 1, 1937)

Credit Line

Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition