Flexible Beaded Bracelet of Tutankhamun
The principal ornament of this beautiful beaded bracelet of Tutankhamun is a large scarab at one end; when worn, the scarab would have appeared to be the central ornament. The scarab is not a single piece of stone, but is made of a number of pieces of lapis lazuli fitted most carefully into gold cloisonnés fixed to a gold plate.
Between the rear legs of the scarab is a neb basket-symbol in hieroglyphs inlaid with blue glass. The scarab and the basket sign were intended to spell out King Tutankhamun’s other name, Nebkheperure, but instead of the expected sun disc between the forelegs, there is a cartouche of the king with the same signs.
The bracelet is edged with gold beads and it is finished with a gold fastening, which slides into a corresponding fitting on the side of the scarab to secure the bracelet when it is worn.
The beaded bracelet bears signs of having been worn during King Tutankhamun’s lifetime. These bracelets were popular adornments during the time of Tutankhamun and were worn by both men and women.
The Beaded bracelet of Tutankhamun, like many other jewelry pieces found in his tomb, showcases the wealth and artistic skills of the ancient Egyptians.
It serves as a testament to the importance of jewelry in ancient Egyptian society and their belief in the afterlife, where such items were believed to accompany and protect the deceased.
Howard Carter, who discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922, called this type of bracelet a “wristband,” because it is composed of rows of barrel-shaped beads that make the bracelet flexible around the wrist. The beads are made of gold, electrum, blue glass, lapis lazuli, and calcite (Egyptian alabaster).
New Kingdom, late 18th Dynasty, reign of Tutankhamun, ca. 1332-1323 BC. From the Tomb of Tutankhamun (KV62), Valley of the Kings, West Thebes. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 62374