Ancient Egyptian Beaded Dress
Ancient Egyptian faience beaded fishnet dress. It is the oldest surviving example of a dress in this style. And yes, it would have put the wearer’s body on display in a way that is barely acceptable at a burlesque by today’s standards.
The dress has been reassembled from approximately seven thousand beads (no record mentioned how long the reassembling took) found in an undisturbed burial of a female contemporary of King Khufu.
Although their string had disintegrated, a few beads still lay in their original pattern on and around the mummy, allowing modern archaeologists to accurately reconstruct what it had once looked like.
The color of the beads has faded as well. But when it was first made, the beadnet was blue and blue green, to imitate the precious stones lapis lazuli and turquoise. This beadnet dress is constructed of faience cylinder beads and 27 faience floral pendants, reconstructed by Sheila Shear in 2001.
Depictions of women in Egyptian art occasionally feature garments decorated with an overall lozenge pattern. This design is believed to represent beadwork, which was either sewn onto a linen dress or worked into a separate net worn over the linen.
This beadnet dress is the earliest surviving example of such a garment. It has been painstakingly reassembled from approximately seven thousand beads found in an undisturbed burial of a female contemporary of King Khufu.
Although their string had disintegrated, a few beads still lay in their original pattern on and around the mummy, permitting an accurate reconstruction. The color of the beads has faded, but the beadnet was originally blue and blue green in imitation of lapis lazuli and turquoise.
Old Kingdom, 4th Dynasty, reign of King Khufu, ca. 2551-2528 BC. From Giza, tomb G 2342 D (now G 5520 D); 1933: excavated by the Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition. Now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 27.1548.1