Sunday, June 11, 2017

Egypt: Menat Necklace

Whenever I visit a museum I always seem to end up for hours staring at the ancient beaded jewelry trying to remember the patterns and colors. Many times they don't allow you to take pictures, so I will sketch and take notes.

The NYC Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of my favorite places where I can spend hours just looking at the Egyptian jewelry exhibit. I have a tendency to get separated from whomever I'm there with as I won't hear them mention that they are moving on to the next room. It happens (almost) ever time I visit.

My favorite pieces always seem to be the beaded collars. I am amazed by the age of the beads, the colors and the extravagance of the patterns. This particular type of wide beaded collar is called a menat. Typically the strings of beads come together in the back with a heavy counterweight (when worn as a necklace) to keep it in place. The counterweight could also be held in the hand to make a rattling noise like the sistrum, an ancient musical instrument, which literally means 'to shake.' Egyptians believed that the noise drove off evil and would defend them against their enemies.

The sistrum and menat date back to the 6th Dynasty as symbols used (mainly by women) in the cult of Hathor. Often the dead would be buried with a menat as it was the symbol for divine protection. For the living, the menat would be held in the hand of a high priestess'  to act as a medium through which the goddess' power was transmitted. Because the queen herself could function as the high priestess of Hathor, royal wives would be seen offering the necklace to their husbands. You see this in King Tut's tomb where his wife and queen, Ankhesenamon, is offering the pharaoh a menat necklace signifying rebirth of the dead.

I have wanted to make a beaded collar like this for quite a long time, but never found the right design. When I stumbled on this pattern I decided to pull out some gorgeous tear drops from Stinky Dog Beads. This collar beaded up quickly and has a nice weight to it. It feels substantial on, and the beads have such a nice sound to them. I didn't include the counterweight in the back, but instead beaded the collar all the way around to button in the back. I think it looks wonderful with a pair of jeans.

15 comments:

Paula, Chief Bead Officer said...

You are right! The collar looks great with the jean jacket in the photo. Love the tear drop beads too!

windrock studio said...

I love that I always get to enjoy such beauty when I visit your space and every time I learn so much, too!
This collar is extraordinary, truly.

Duni said...

That is a stunning piece! The teardrops really are beautiful! My husband and I often get separated in a museum too :)

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Gorgeous! And what fascinating Goddess info -- thanks!

Miss Val's Creations said...

Stunning Cynthia! It doesn't get more classic than something from an ancient time period. I could see this piece dressed up or down and earning many compliments either way.

BeadedTail said...

Wowza! What a gorgeous necklace! I find it hard to believe it 'beaded up quickly' because it'd take me weeks to do that!

Veralynne Malone said...

Awesome as usual....

Liz E said...

Ancient Egyptian craftsmanship is astounding. I love all Egyptian antiquities. The goddess Hathor sounds incredibly cool.

The color scheme of your collar is perfect. I love netting. It looks complicated and intricate but is surprisingly easy. Having so much negative space allows the beads to shine and have more individual personality. And of course your beautiful model shows your stunning collar off perfectly!

JoJo said...

That's gorgeous! You did a great job!

Christine Altmiller said...

I finally made it to the big screen and not my tiny phone and Holy Crap does it make an even bigger, better, more beautiful statement!!! I am in awe of this and the colors you used. I am intrigued by the pattern. I am contemplating actually trying to follow it. And I am really really digging that link to the counterweight. You should boldly go there next!

Christine Altmiller said...

P.S. I know you like to make bracelets with fringe on just one side. This pattern would be cool as a bracelet too!

Chelsey said...

This is lovely. How creative!

Magic Love Crow said...

This collar is stunning!!! Thank you for all the interesting history information! Big Hugs!

Blogoratti said...

Great and lovely necklace indeed. Greetings!

CraftyHope said...

It's so beautiful and such a statement. I love me some netted pieces. You've done an awesome job with this. So glad you found a pattern you liked!

AntiquityTravelers on Etsy