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Animal Worlds: Symbol Authority.

Royal Pectoral, Egypt, Second Intermediate Period, about 1784-1570 BC. Gold and silver with inlays of carnelian and glass, width: 14 3/8 (36.5 cm). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Egyptian Special Purchase Fund, William Francis Warden Fund, Florence E. and Horace L. Mayer Fund. Ex Collection, Lafayette College 1890-1981, 1981.159.

This rich and splendid pectoral (chest ornament) was never meant to be worn. It was almost certainly a funerary ornament for a royal burial, attached to the curved chest of a mummy-shaped coffin. Tomb robbery was so common in ancient Egypt that very little jewelry has survived into modern times. This pectoral is not only extremely rare, but it is also a skillfully crafted work of art. Composed of more than four hundred separate pieces of colored glass, it is mounted in gold and silver.

The pectoral represents an Egyptian vulture grasping in its talons two coils of rope, symbols of the universal power of the king. To the left of the bird's body is a cobra, rearing back as if ready to strike. Together the vulture and the cobra signify the union of Upper and Lower Egypt and were the standard symbols of the pharaoh.

?? What do you see that gives you the impression that this is a powerful bird?

GalleryCard submitted by Judy Murray, Gallery Instructor Program Coordinator, Department of Education and Public Programs, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
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Title Annotation:ancient Egypt ornamental art
Author:Murray, Judy
Publication:School Arts
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:7EGYP
Date:Oct 1, 2000
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