Egyptian Blue Glass Heart Scarab

$1,492.74

An ancient Egyptian scarab moulded from indigo-blue, glass paste. The clypeus is carefully rendered and the smooth elytra is marked with a double suture. The underside of the scarab is flat but uneven, as signs of moulding can be observed and there is no indication of legs. There is also a cylindrical depression on the underside, perhaps used for anchoring when setting the scarab to a bigger frame, such as a pectoral. The deep royal blue is reminiscent of the colour of lapis lazuli, most likely made in imitation.

Date: Circa 332-30 BC
Period: Ptolemaic Period
Provenance: Formerly in the collection of Madeleine Meunier (1921 -2009), auctioned by Christie’s and Millon in Drouot, Paris, 15 December 2016, lot 68.
Condition: Good condition. Previously restored. Small chip to the mouth area.

SOLD

SKU: XJ-20 Category: Tags: ,

Scarabs first appeared around the end of the First Intermediate Period and had an enduring presence in ancient Egyptian culture, popular even under Graeco-Roman rule. They were made in various typology such as heart scarabs, commemorative scarabs, and scarab amulets catering to different functions. Heart scarabs, the earliest of which dates to the 13th Dynasty, are usually found in burial contexts. They were often placed on the heart of the mummy to guard against the heart of the deceased speaking against him during the Day of Judgement.

As mentioned, the deep royal blue colour of this scarab imitates the lustrous colour of lapis lazuli. This was common practise for the Egyptians, who valued the apotropaic values associated with a colour, just as much as the stone itself. Thus, many semi-precious stones were imitated, from blue lapis, green turquoise and red jasper. To the ancient Egyptians, lapis lazuli was a material associated with the gods. Alongside gold and silver, it was one of the most celestial materials used, with the Egyptians believing that the hair, and sometimes the skin, of the gods was made from the precious stone. Lapis lazuli is mentioned in the Book of the Dead frequently. In particular, spell 26 mentions the use ‘ of heart of lapis lazuli’, “r n ib n Xsbd”. ‘Ib’ would translate as heart, but in this case refers to a heart scarab made of lapis lazuli.

To find out more about Ancient Egyptian amulets please see our relevant blog post: Egyptian Amulets and their Meanings.

Weight 47.5 g
Dimensions L 6 x W 4 cm
Culture

Glass

Region

Reference: For a similar item, The British Museum, London, item EA7865

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