Ancient Egyptian frog ring

The frog ring is made of Egyptian blue, which was a vibrant blue pigment, considered to be the first synthetically-produced pigment, composed of quartz sand, a copper compound, and calcium carbonate. The color blue was highly prized in ancient Egypt and the creation of a synthetic pigment allowed artists to produce imitations of the precious stones lapis lazuli and turquoise, which were expensive and not always readily accessible.

At the beginning of the Pharaonic era, rings are very rare and are simple hoops made of gold or copper. The spread of jewelry increases rapidly during the Middle Kingdom and they also begin to be used as seals. In the New Kingdom, when production intensified, rings of different shapes appeared, such as stirrup rings with an engraved or chiselled inscription or decorative motif, or special decorations such as the specimen in the picture, embellished with a frog.

Ancient Egyptian frog ring
Ancient Egyptian frog ring

The frog raises its head, while its legs, tense and nervous, are ready to jump. The shiny faience vividly reproduces the moist skin of this amphibian. The animal’s popularity was due to its being a symbol of creation and fertility.

Finger rings in the shape of frogs were produced throughout the Pharaonic period and in very different materials. The association between this amphibian and the life that continually renews may have been induced by the fact that frogs were numerous and usually appeared after the flooding of the Nile: multitudes of frogs filled the fields and seemed to generate themselves directly from the slime, multiplying without end. The amphibian was also the sacred animal of the goddess Heqet, protector of births.

New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, ca. 1550-1077 BC. Now in the Private Collection.