Thursday, January 7, 2010

Nefertiti’s Collar

Queen Nefertiti Limestone Bust c.1348-1335 B.C.

If asked to think of an Egyptian Queen, it’s very likely that one will see an image of the long-necked beauty known as Nefertiti. The time-worn sculpture of Akhenaton’s wife is one of the most well known Egyptian artifacts, along with the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun, and the sculpture of Rahotep and Nofret.

Very little is known about Nefertiti, apart from the fact that she was married to Akhenaton, who tried unsuccessfully to introduce a new form of religion to Egypt. Some of the mystery is due, naturally, to the span of time between her life and the discovery of artifacts at Tel el-Amarna. Many details about the life of Nefertiti are unclear because so little of it was recorded at all. It is possible that she was the mother of Tutankhamun, and she was known to have had six daughters before disappearing from view completely.

The Inspiration:

The lovely sculpture of Queen Nefertiti is a personal favorite. The collar she wears is one of the quintessential forms of Ancient Egyptian jewelry, which has been copied by artisans and crafters time and again. I wanted to have a go at recreating Nefertiti’s collar with my own style, as a tribute to one of history’s greatest beauties.

Egyptian Seed Bead Palette

The Beads:

Since I would be working without gold, carnelian or lapis, I had a tough time choosing just the right seed bead colors to use. I had a look through my stash and tried to select shades that were slightly muted, to represent the faded, ancient necklace I would be imitating. I went with my favorite abalone lined crystal for blue, then chose some other lined beads to match. With white lined peridot and red lined sapphire in the mix, I chose some pretty transparent light amber 11/0s for the muted gold. For accent beads, I chose Siam red pinch bicones, transparent sapphire hex-cuts, chartreuse 8/0s, and rootbeer lined topaz seed beads in 8/0 and 6/0. To add a fun twist to the design, I also grabbed some black vitrail daggers to embellish the outer ring of the collar.

The Beadwork:

After studying the design of Nefertiti’s necklace, I decided to drop the last ring of the pattern, to keep things simple. The inner ring has a repeating pattern - blue-red-blue-green - and each segment is ringed with gold. Outside of this are two fan shaped rows, and a smaller ring between, with the colors spreading outward from the center. Since I had already decided to go with netting to recreate the necklace, I had to decide how to represent each color and it’s place in the pattern, while trying to imitate the gold between each segment.

Nefertiti Sculpture - Necklace Detail

In the end, I decided that it would be easiest to simply add a touch of gold within a colorful pattern, rather than attempt to make each individual shape in the original necklace. I kept the blue-green-blue-red pattern for the top row, alternating accent beads between the loops to tie them together. To represent the smaller, third section of the necklace, I used loops of blue beads instead of points, with dagger beads adding a little extra sparkle.

Princess Nefertiti Beadwork Collar

For a clasp, I used peyote stitch to create a little bowl of seed beads. Many Ancient Egyptian necklaces featured talismans on the back, to ward off evil from behind. Perhaps my little beaded cup clasp could be used to collect good energy instead.

After putting everything together, I found that although the seed bead colors I chose were faint and smoky in nature, the entire palette is actually very vibrant. It has a sort of exuberance to it that does not exist in the original collar - and probably didn’t even when it was new. I like to think that my necklace is a younger, spunkier version - better for a princess than a queen.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading

1 comment:

  1. I think this really shows something the eyptians would have worn. What a wonderful piece of work. I am impressed.


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