The Tutankhamun Exhibit
Jewelry and Ornamentation
Floral Collar of Faience Beads
This collar consists of several rows of faience beads. While the technique of making faience had been in existence long before Tutankhamun came to the throne, it was only in the reign of his predecessor, Akhenaten, that these brightly colored collars imitating floral garlands first came into extensive use. Each row represents a particular fruit or berry, a petal, or a leaf.
Cornflower, lotus, and mandrake were among the flowers, and olive and willow were the trees whose leaves the Egyptians of the New Kingdom regularly used for their garlands. The berries were usually from the nightshade plant. P.E. Newberry, one of Carter's associates, was able to determine the season in which Tutankhamun was buried based on the growing seasons of the plants used in the king's garlands. According to Newberry, the burial occurred from the middle of March to the end of April. One of the many garlands placed around the third, or innermost, coffin consisted of both real flowers and glass beads. other collars made completely of faience beads were found on the mummy, and still others were strewn about the various chambers of the tomb.
Made of ground quartzite combined with an element for pigmentation, the faience beads could be shaped by hand or cast in a mold. They were then dried and fired, producing a hard, porcelain-like finish. The white glaze of the terminals illustrated here contains an elaborate design consisting of several rows of floral petals, flowers, and fruit. Five flexible strands of beads, each ending in a blossom, are suspended from the terminals.