Hi! Today I am going to be taking over the role of Jenna Marbles who always knows what a girl’s/guy’s _____ (eg. Facial hair/jewellery/makeup) means! Well in this case, I am going to teach everyone what an Egyptian’s jewellery means. Jenna learns and “teaches” us what a girl’s/guy’s _____ means according to her own experience/observations which are not quite credible. Not trying to throw shade at Jenna since I do admire her a lot, but we all know that she comes up with a lot of silly content which she herself agrees. So I will be sharing with you what I learnt from more credible sources.
In Ancient Egypt, jewellery served many functions which include protection when amulets are present, ornamentation, giving the wearer/owner social status and identity and sometimes even used as musical instruments. Also, Ancient Egyptians chose the colours of their jewellery cautiously as each colour symbolises something. For instance, blue symbolises fertility.
An Ancient Egyptian who wore gold, precious stones and certain coloured glass would mean that he or she is of the upper class. While those who wore jewellery made of shell, wood, bones and beads were the commoners or the less privileged. Also, the wealthy used to stack themselves with jewellery. Maybeee it meant that the wealthier one was, the more jewellery one would be wearing.
If an Ancient Egyptian wears jewellery made of meteorite, it means that he/she is a member of the royals or upper class like those in the picture above. Since the Egyptians placed heavy emphasis on the sky, objects that were from the sky were deemed gifts from the deities, giving the meteorites godlike characteristics. To be wearing a jewellery made from a “gift from god” must be a huge honour and thus the jewellery would have been worn by people who already are honored in life such as the ones with wealth and power.
Rings were also used as seals during then to sign documents. If one wore a ring with jewels or gold, it meant that he was a rich man. On the other hand, poorer Egyptians wore rings made of copper. Seal rings would have the name and title of the owner engraved on it which can tell us the possible occupation of the owner, for instance a priest of Amun-Re.
Both female and male ancient Egyptians enjoyed wearing necklaces. Some necklaces represent accomplishments and honour such as “weskhet” (“wesekh”). It is a collar piece that was often worn by the pharaohs and those honoured by the pharaohs such as officials and soldiers. They were often made of gold and previous gemstones. Thus, an ancient Egyptian who wore a “weskhet” would mean that he was a pharaoh or a well-favoured man.
On the other hand some carried religious functions or could even be played as instruments such as the “menat”. One who wears a “menat” is one who was most probably a priest/priestess of the goddess Hathor, although usually a female. It was also used together with the musical instrument called the “sistrum” for religious ceremonies. One wearing a “menat” can also mean that the wearer is of the upper class.
While I was preparing for the blogpost, I realised that most sources talked about how the rich wore their jewelleries and hardly any on what the poor wore. Hence, my post does lack information on jewellery that represented the less privileged. I guess a possible reason would be jewellery artefacts were usually obtained from the well protected places such as Pyramids of wealthy leaders. However, affordable jewellery would have been easily lost as the less wealthy or powerful would not be able to prepare a grand setting for the corpse which makes it relatively more difficult for historians and archaeologists to find. I apologise for the lack of information which may just be due to my lack of capabilities in finding them.
During the Ancient Egyptian times, one's jewellery would tell a lot about his/her as discussed, it is more difficult to do so today. With improved technology and globalization, jewellery becomes more affordable and jewellery styles are not as restricted to certain groups. Valuable materials have cheaper alternatives that look similar, making it difficult for us to decipher which has more value. While it is still possible to infer how one may be by looking at his/her jewellery sense, the above mentioned factors make it more difficult for us today.