An Egyptian Openwork Amarna Ring With Wedjat Eye
This is a wonderful and rare faience ring displaying an openwork wedjat-eye. The ring dates to the New Kingdom, late 18th dynasty, more specifically the Amarna period. During this period many faience rings were made, as evidenced by the hundreds recovered from the excavations in Amarna.
Very few of them were of the openwork type, and even fewer have survived fully intact and with such fine, sharp detailing.
Rings like this were manufactured from two separate clay moulds, as could be deduced from the rings found at the site of Amarna. Faience paste was pressed into separate moulds for the bezel and the shank, and the resulting pieces were joined together with a slurry of the core material. Glaze was then applied and the whole ring was fired. The resulting beautiful turquoise colour symbolised the heavens and the cosmic waters (see Friedman (1998), p. 222).
The wedjat-eye, believed to belong to the falcon-headed god Horus, was one of the most ubiquitous and powerful amuletic symbols in ancient Egypt. It is a combination of the human eye with brow above, and falcon markings below, taking the form of a drop shape at the front and an uncurling spiral at the back, said to imitate the markings on the head of the lanner falcon (but also mentioned as tears connected with the injuring of the eye). The eye was a very popular amulet in ancient Egypt; Andrews (1994), p. 10, 43-44) remarks that it is probably found in greater numbers on mummies than any other amulet, and, of course, it could also be worn in life. Most occurrences of the eye are on amulets; on rings they are much more rare.
For a very close parallel to the ring on offer see Friedman (1998), no. 106 (where it is erroneously called a wadjet-ring instead of a wedjat-ring).
Size: 23 x 21 x 11 mm maximum; internal diameter 18mm.
Florence Dunn Friedman (ed.), Gifts of the Nile. Ancient Egyptian Faience (London, Thames and Hudson, 1998), p. 123 and 222, nos. 105-107, especially no. 106;
Carol Andrews, Amulets of Ancient Egypt (London, British Museum Press, 1994), p. 10, 43-44.
Provenance: UK private collection; previously with Anubis Ancient Art, Netherlands, 2004; previously old US private collection, obtained before 1890.
This lot will be sold not subject to a reserve. The starting price is the price at which the item can sell.
** PLEASE NOTE: This item will be shipping from the Netherlands, and as such, an Export License may be required depending on where it will be shipped. VAT and/or customs may also be a factor if it will be shipping within the EU. If you are interested in bidding on this lot, please email us prior to bidding**
Completely intact, with no repairs or restorations; a few very tiny (ancient) hairlines in the faience have turned darker, probably because of dirt accumulated when the ring was worn; parts of the glaze have slightly discoloured with age, as visible on the photographs. A highly desirable piece!