Girdle of Princess Sithathor

The girdle of the Princess Sithathor is made of eight gold, half-open cowry shells. The ones at each end have flat reverses, and were joined by means of grooves to serve as a clasp, fastening the girdle when they slid one into the other.

The shells are separated from each other by rhomboidal polychrome beads of carnelian, feldspar, and lapis lazuli. Gold cowry shells were imitations of the real cowry shells that had been used in belts, bracelets, anklets, and necklaces since the pre-dynastic period. People thought that cowry shells possessed powerful magical properties and increase female fertility.

Girdle of Princess Sithathor
Girdle of Princess Sithathor

The use of girdles as a woman’s ornament was widespread in Egypt from the Middle Kingdom and wall paintings often show naked girls clad only with small chains formed by alternating beads and amulets around their hips.

Princess Sithathor was a daughter of King Senusret II, and was most probably a sister of Senusret III, as she was buried within his pyramid complex at Dahshur.

Girdle of Princess Sithathor
Girdle of Princess Sithathor

Very fine pieces of jewelry that belonged to her were found in her tomb; they are now preserved in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Most of the burials were found looted, but there were two boxes for jewelry overlooked by tomb robbers. Both boxes contained an outstanding collection of jewelry.

Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty, reign of Senusret II, ca. 1897-1878 BC. Gold, lapis lazuli, carnelian, and feldspar. Length: 70 cm. Tomb of Princess Sathathor, Funerary complex of Senusret III, Dahshur. Excavation by Jacques de Morgan, 1894. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 30858

Fastener of Princess Sithathor
Fastener of Princess Sithathor. Height: 2.7 cm. Made of gold, carnelian, lapis lazuli and turquoise. Funerary Complex of Senusret III at Dahshur. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 30862
Photo: Sandro Vannini

Follow Egypt Museum on Facebook to get latest posts and updates.