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jewelry glossary

Antique jewelry glossary

Welcome to our extensive antique jewelry glossary with around 1,500 jewelry related entries.If you feel you are missing an explanation, feel free to let us know and we will add it.

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Funerary jewelry

Articles of jewelry not intended to be worn by the living but with which the dead was buried, as in ancient Egypt.

In Egypt, during the VIth Dynasty (c. 2400 BC - c. 2250 BC) and the XVIIIth Dynasty (c. 1552 BC - c. 1296 BC), the scarab, which had significance as to resurrection and immortality, was often so interred, especially the heart scarab. Some such articles were made of thin gold sheet to cover parts of the dead body, e.g. the eyes, mouth, ears, breast, navel, pudenda, some being in the form of the part to be covered; these were produced in many eastern Mediterranean regions, such as Egypt, Cyprus, the region near the Black See, and the Palestinian-Phoenician coast.

Related to these burial articles was the gold death mask for covering the face. Many pieces of this type were made of gold pre-Columbian jewelry. In very ancient China, from the 4th/3rd Millennia BC, various articles of jade were interred with the dead, each having some ritualistic significance, e.g. the PI and the Huang. The most imposing were the funeral suits such as those made of 2690 pieces for Prince Liu Sheng and of 2160 pieces for his wife, Princess Tou Wan, from the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC - AD 8), found in 1968 on their bodies in their tomb in the district of Hopei; the pieces of jade were sewn together with gold and silver thread.

From: An Illustrated Dictionary of Jewelry, autor: Harold Newman, publishers: Thames and Hudson

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