Egyptian faience is a glassy substance (frit) manufactured by the ancient Egyptians. It is the oldest known type of glazed ceramic. It was first developed around 6000 years ago in Mesopotamia, but faience production and quality reached its height in ancient Egypt. Faience is characterised by its bright colours, especially deep turquoise and green. It's surface can vary widely in appearance from glossy and translucent to matt and opaque.
Faience is composed mainly of silica (sand or crushed quartz). It was made by grinding the quartz or sand crystals together with various amounts of sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and copper oxide. The resulting paste was formed into a variety of objects including amulets, beads and figurines which are now some of the most popular Egyptian antiquities for sale. Finally these objects were fired in round, updraft kilns. During this process, the pieces would harden and develop their bright colour which was then finely glazed. It is thought that the Egyptian craftsmen perfected faience in an attempt to imitate turquoise and other precious gemstones.
Dimensions: Length 540 mm.
Provenance: Ex. private collection, UK; acquired at UK auction house.