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Pectoral

Egyptian
1783–1550 B.C.


Dimensions

Height x width x depth: 11.2 x 36.5 x 0.5 cm (4 7/16 x 14 3/8 x 3/16 in.)

Accession Number

1981.159

Medium or Technique

Gold and silver with inlays of carnelian and glass

Not On View

Collections

Jewelry, The Ancient World

Classifications

Jewelry / Adornment, Pendants

Composed of baseplates made of hammered silver sheet, with soldered and gilded silver cloisons (partitions) inlaid with carnelian and glass, this sumptuous pectoral was fit for a king. It takes the form of a vulture with outstretched wings representing the tutelary goddess of Upper Egypt, Nekhbet, grasping coils of rope, a symbol of eternity. To the left of the vulture's body is a rearing cobra. She is Wadjyt, the goddess of Lower Egypt. Together, they form a pair referred to as the "two ladies," guardian deities of the king.
The pectoral was made as a piece of funerary equipment rather than as jewelry to be worn in life. The three separate pieces representing the wings and body of the bird were not joined to one another; rather, the edges of the base plates were pierced with holes for fastening the ornament to something else, most likely the chest of the mummy or an anthropoid coffin. The wings also curve laterally, further supporting this assumption.

Provenance

1858, sold by a dealer near Thebes, Egypt to George Alfred Stone, Roxbury, MA and Brooklyn, NY; 1873, sold by Mr. Stone's wife to John W. Garrett (b. 1820 - d. 1884), Baltimore; given by Mr. Garrett to Lafayette College, Easton, PA; about 1979, stolen from Skillman Library at Lafayette College. December 11, 1980, consigned anonymously, through John T. Granger (dealer), Tinicum, PA, to Sotheby Parke-Bernet, New York, unsold; 1981, sold by John Granger, through Sotheby Parke-Bernet, to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 10, 1981) NOTE: In 1992, title transferred from Lafayette College to MFA as through agreement reached in April 1992.

Credit Line

Egyptian Special Purchase Fund, William Francis Warden Fund, Florence E. and Horace L. Mayer Fund