Egyptian rock crystal ring with a sphinx

11:20 AM

 The design and execution of the sphinx is masterful. It rests with its tail characteristically following the contour of its right, hind leg, around which it rests. Like most Egyptian sphinxes, the head of this example is covered by a nemes-headdress, here plain, to the front of which has been affixed a uraeus, or sacred cobra, its tail undulating over its top.  Attention has been paid to the detailed rendering of the toes on the extended front paws. The round face of the sphinx is dominated by large, almond-shaped eyes, set into fairly deep sockets with its eyebrows rendered by incision. The nose exhibits wide wings, its nostrils drilled and prominent. A faint philtrum, or depression, under the center of the nose separates it from the wide, horizontally aligned mouth with its fleshy lips. The resulting physiognomy gives one the impression of strength and power, devoid as it is of the bland, idealizing features which often characterize the faces of such composite beasts. That impression contributes significantly to the monumentality inherent in this miniature, jewel-like masterpiece.


Whereas it is difficult to compare the face on our sphinx, despite its inherent monumentality, to much larger examples in stone in order to suggest the identity of the pharaoh represented, its round face and non-idealizing features with their pronounced cheek bones resonate with physiognomic features encountered in some representations of Rameses II.


Rock crystal, perhaps termed menu hedej, in the hieroglyphs was a stone much coveted for amulets and miniature, deluxe vases but its use, because of its rarity,  was very restricted.


New Kingdom, Ramesside period, IX - XX Dynasty , 1295 - 1069 BC.




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7 komentarze

  1. How was the object detailed and polished?

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  2. Someone finally found Great Grandad's ring!

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  3. As a jeweler, I look at something like that ring and cannot help but wonder what tools they used for roughing out and the detail work. A modern artist would be hard-pressed to achieve the flow and particularly the symmetry, using all modern tools including diamond points and flex shaft tools. And bear in mind that it is quartz, number 7 on the hardness scale.

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    1. Exactly! I think how the heck? At 1,500 BC? I couldn't properly do that now. I have polished a lot of cabochons from agate, etc, and carved some small sculptures from softer stone with a dremel...how did they do that ring?? I was just thinking about process while looking at the ancient silver spearheads inlaid with fine detailed gold. How???

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    2. Wow, that's a great thing to know, thanks for sharing! This adds so much to the piece historical value that now the description seems incomplete. I know people almost figured out how they've build great pyramids over the years, but I hope someone somewhere is researching this ring, this must became our new priority lol

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  4. fabulous ... fit for king or a courtier not someone who had earn their living with their hands though...

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