Gold spacer bars with cats, for a bracelet

Probably from Edfu, Egypt
17th Dynasty, around 1650 BC

Inscribed with the name of Sobekemsaf, wife of King Nubkheperre Inyotef

These spacer bars originally held in place bracelets made up of twelve strands of beads, perhaps of carnelian or lapis lazuli, which are now lost. Egyptian bracelets were typically worn in pairs and these spacers are all that remain from a pair of presumably identical bracelets. The bracelets belonged to Queen Sobekemsaf , whose name, along with that of her husband, is inscribed on the underside of each bar.

Several royal women of the early New Kingdom (1550-1070 BC) possessed items of jewellery that contained feline elements. For example, three minor wives of Thutmose III were buried with bracelets which have cat spacer bars. The cat was sacred to the goddess Bastet, associated with female fertility, and cat-shaped beads were worn by women as amulets to promote fertility and conception. It is likely that the feline elements in the jewellery of the royal ladies were worn with the same intention. Fertility was particularly important to royal wives, because one of the primary duties of the queen was to provide the king with an heir. This would ensure the continuity of the kingship and therefore the continuing order of the universe.

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More information

Bibliography

C.A.R. Andrews, Amulets of Ancient Egypt (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)

E.R. Russmann, Eternal Egypt: masterworks of (University of California Press, 2001)

K.B.S. Ryholt and A. Bulow-Jacobsen, The political situation in Egy (Copenhagen, Museum Tusculanum Press, 1997)

C.A.R. Andrews, Catalogue of Egyptian antiqu-5 (London, The British Museum Press, 1981)

I. Shaw and P. Nicholson (eds.), British Museum dictionary of A (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)

Dimensions

Length: 3.000 cm

Museum number

EA 57699-700

YCA69225;YCA69226

Gift of C.W. Dyson Perring (1924)

Location

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