Ancient Egyptian culture is revered all over the word for its mystery and the wealth of archaeological evidence supporting its intrigue. A great amount of information and knowledge has been garnered through the study of the masterful pieces of jewelry unearthed. It is evident that Ancient Egyptians took their gold jewelry very seriously and this jewelry did not merely serve the purpose of decoration or adornment but had multiple levels of significance, both worldly and spiritual. The sheer beauty, craftsmanship, variety, symbolism, divine significance and widespread use of these pieces of art (they cannot be just called jewelry) in such an ancient civilization is a source of endless intrigue forcarcheologists and historians alike.
Ancient Egyptian gold jewelry was extensively used for reasons manifold and cannot be explained from a single perspective. Jewelry was worn for protection from evil forces and influences, for good luck, for personal health, for spiritual reasons. Even very young children were almost always adorned with jewelry, whether or not they were clothed! Some types of jewelry were considered especially powerful and as protection in both this life and the next. People were entombed along with their jewelry to ensure safe passage in the next world.
The significance of each piece differs, from pharaonic gold jewelry to Egyptian gold jewelry for women and men, gold earrings, gold bracelets, gold pendants, gold amulets and so on. Here is a brief look at the divine and spiritual symbolism involved with specific symbols used in ancient Egyptian gold jewelry –
The scarab beetle signifies rebirth and regeneration and is believed to signify the Sun God Ra who rolls across the sky each day and disappears only to be reborn the next morning. Scarab jewelry represents the heavenly cycle and rebirth.
The hieroglyph used to symbolize the word “life” is a simple cross shape, the popular symbol called the ankh. The ankh represents eternal life and is used in pendants and charms worn by both men and women. It is also associated with the Goddess of life, healing and protection Isis.
The eye of Horus is another powerful protective symbol that is incorporated into the designs of ancient Egyptian gold jewelry. It signifies protection, royal power and good health. This symbol is even significant in warding off evil influences and can be found painted on boats by fishermen and so on.
A popular and graceful symbol that lends itself perfectly to jewelry design is the lotus symbol. This design signifies creation, rebirth and fertility.
It is not only such symbols which hold a spiritual and divine significance in Egyptian gold jewelry but also colours. Black symbolized death and also life and rebirth while red symbolizes a higher being and life, blue symbolizes the Nile River – protection, fertility, nourishment, while yellow symbolizes the sun and eternity and white symbolizes purity and innocence.
Thus we see that ancient Egyptians in their wealth of cultural heritage and knowledge built a plethora of meanings into the wearing of jewelry, probably as a constant reminder to the wearer of the higher meanings of the symbols used and as a protection against unwanted forces.