Faience is a glazed ceramic known for producing bright colours, especially blues, turquoises and greens. It is produced from quartz or sand crystals mixed with other compounds, finished with a vitreous alkaline glaze to the surface. Faience glimmers in the light and was believed by the Egyptians to represent rebirth and immortality. During the Predynastic period only green and blue faience occurred, however from the Old Kingdom and onwards alternative colours such as black, yellow and red were added to the palette. The colours had different symbolisms for example, blue was thought to reflect fertility and life. Faience was manufactured into amulets and jewellery, the substance was used to create scarabs, furniture and cups.
The Ancient Egyptians wore amulets alongside other pieces of jewellery. They were decorative, but also served a practical purpose, being considered to bestow power and protection upon the wearer. Many amulets have been found inside the wrappings of mummies, as they were used to prepare the deceased for the afterlife. Amulets were modelled and carved from different materials, such as precious metals and hard stones. Lapis lazuli was a much-revered material, considered a semi-precious stone and not found locally to the Ancient Egyptians. Its status and value derived in part from the fact that it had to be imported, most likely from Afghanistan.
The lotus was an important symbol in the ancient world, as it stood for rebirth and creation. Lotus flowers open during the day, and close at night, thus illustrating the journey of the god, Khepri, who rolled the sun across the earth, and in doing so created day and night. Lotus flowers are also born from the mud at the bottom of lakes, before rising to the surface: such symbolism may have been applied to burial contexts in ancient Egypt, providing a powerful and optimistic metaphor for rebirth. It was believed that the lotus flower gave strength and power, and for this reason is often found in tomb decorations and in amulet form.
To discover more about amulets in the Ancient Egyptian world, please visit our relevant post: Amulets in Ancient Egypt.