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Department of Egyptian Antiquities: Religious and funerary beliefs

Pinudjem's Necklace

© Musée du Louvre/C. Décamps

Egyptian Antiquities
Religious and funerary beliefs

Author(s):
Rigault Patricia

This splendid gold necklace is of exceptional quality and great originality. It consists of three chains composed of flat rings that are soldered together in pairs, and a rectangular pendant inlaid with lapis lazuli, that bears the name of Pinudjem I framed by two bees. Smaller chains, adorned with elegant floral pendants, are attached to the outer and inner chain and to the bottom of the rectangular pendant. This lovely necklace demonstrates the virtuosity of the goldsmiths of the period.

Sophisticated techniques

Square plaques, inserted at regular intervals, serve to hold the three main chains apart. These plaques were probably originally inlaid like the pendant. The latter bears the coronation name of King Pinudjem I—Kha-Kheper-Re—flanked by two royal bees symbolizing northern Egypt. The front of the pendant is decorated with cloisonné, a technique favored by the Egyptians. Gold partitions were soldered onto the metal plaque, and pieces of lapis lazuli fitted inside these partitions. This technique, in use since the Old Kingdom, is one of the most common in Egyptian gold and silver work. Gold was generally used in association with semiprecious stones such as carnelian, turquoise, and lapis lazuli. Similarly colorful effects could be created using faience, which was less expensive. The back of the pendant has an identical decoration worked in repoussé. The small floral pendants—a detail found on other jewelry items from this period—add a touch of lightness and originality to this impressive necklace.

Tradition and innovation

Splendid items of gold jewelry from this period have come down to us, especially from the royal tombs of Tanis but also from Memphis and, more rarely, from the Theban region. A certain number of these pieces feature motifs and techniques that resemble the ones used on this necklace. Such jewelry was clearly inspired by models from previous periods. The pendant, for example, was directly inspired by a type of pectoral originating in the Middle Kingdom in the form of a small chapel crowned by a cornice, usually made in cloisonné. The little floral pendants originated in the New Kingdom, during which period they were made in faience. The quantity of chains and floral pendants is quite typical of this period, which was also characterized by highly sophisticated metalworking techniques.

Pinudjem, high priest of Amun and king

While Smendes, the first king of the 21st Dynasty, ruled from the north of Egypt, a powerful line of High Priests of Amun was established in the south. The High Priest Pinudjem, whose wife was a daughter of Ramesses XI (the last Ramesside king), occupied a prominent place in Upper Egypt—and went so far as to claim the royal titulary. One of his sons succeeded to Smendes, under the name of Psusennes I.

Bibliography

- ZIEGLER C., Les Trésors de Tanis, 2001, p. 108.

- DELANGE, Petits guides des grands musées, Les bijoux de l'Antiquité égyptienne, 1990, p. 17.

Technical description

  •  

    Pinudjem's Necklace

    Third Intermediate Period (1069-664 BC)

  • Gold: repoussé and cloisonné inlay

    L. 60 cm

  • Purchased 1956

    E 25412

  • Egyptian Antiquities

    Sully wing
    Ground floor
    Finery
    Room 9

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