DIARY OF AFRICAN HERITAGE

Royal beads of Africa: Faience

It is created from a pulverised ceramic paste

In Summary

• They adorned Egyptian royalty and the mummies of royal personages 

Faience collar of faience and gold, based on an early Egyptian Queen’s collar from the museum at Alexandria, Egypt
Faience collar of faience and gold, based on an early Egyptian Queen’s collar from the museum at Alexandria, Egypt
Image: JOEL LIPTON

One of humankind's earliest beads adorned kings and queens even in their afterlife

Faience is one of the earliest beads made by man. It is created from a pulverised ceramic paste made of sand that is self-glazing, resulting in hues of blues and greens. It is a predecessor of glass. Collars and ornaments of faience were made for the ancient kings and queens of Egypt and to adorn the mummies of royal personages to accompany the soul on its journey of the afterlife.

“Scarabs” were created of faience for royal ancestors thought to have returned to earth in the form of a beetle. They were covered with hieroglyphics and used to stamp on properties.

Jewellery collections of faience created for the American Bead Museum by this writer are featured in a book and a series of CDs called “World on a string” by Diana Freidberg with photos by Joel Lipton.

Excerpts from the book Black Beauty Through the Ages by Alan Donovan.

Alan Donovan’s latest book, An American in Africa: 50 Years Exploring African Heritage and the Legacy of Racism in America, is now available for sale at Text Book Center, Prestige Book Store, Book Stop, and the Nairobi Serena Hotel