Ceramic pottery - Examples Of Egyptian Pottery

The New York Historical Society possesses, in the Abbott collection, a very extensive illustration of Egyptian pottery and enamels of all periods. Besides a great number of figures, amulets, scarabaei, and small objects in steatite and pottery, this collection exhibits various forms and decorations of vases, bottles, etc. There are several bottles in the blue enamel, which are of the form now called "pilgrim bottles," a flattened-egg shape, having a small neck, and two small strong handles for a string to pass through. Two are in their original wicker cases, indicating the care which was taken of them. A curious vase is shaped in general like the kanopos, the funeral vase for holding the intestines, etc., before described, but, instead of having a movable cover, is in one piece, the top a hawk's head. This is soft pottery, nine inches high, enamelled with turquoise-blue. On the front are two cartouches in black, one containing the praenomen of Osorkon I., of the Twenty-second Dynasty, about 968 B.C. This king was son of Shishak, the spoiler of Jerusalem in the days of Rehoboam. For some years past, this vase has presented a remarkable appearance in the glass case in which it stands. It is completely covered by a growth of fine hair-like spinels, of a transparent crystallization over a fourth of an inch in length. This is not an uncommon occurrence with Egyptian pottery, proceeding from the impregnation of the ware with nitre, or other salts, abounding in Egypt.

A small vase, of cream-colored pottery, is decorated with a rude indication of a human face made of small lumps of clay for eyes and nose, two arms at the sides, two horns above. Mr. Birch supposes this decoration to represent the god Bes, and the vases thus ornamented to be of Roman time. The Greeks and Romans called these vases Besa, from the image on them. Those who are fond of coincidences in art find remarkable resemblance between these vases and some of Central American fabric in our collection.

A fish-shaped bottle in red pottery is curious. Pilgrim bottles, as in enamel, are here in red pottery. Characteristic Egyptian decorations will be found on large, coarse vases in dashing lines of red and black. The red of the Egyptians can hardly be mistaken, although closely imitated in Cyprus. A still more characteristic decoration is that on small vases, where the pottery is marbled with red in rough daubed lines over the surface, rectangular spaces being filled with hieroglyphs in black. A remarkable vase--a jug of buff-colored pottery--with large, globular bulb nearly a foot in diameter, a short neck, from which a straight spout projects horizontally, with handle opposite, is decorated in black with one design often repeated, which might well be taken for a cuttle-fish with its arms extended in divers folds. The leaf ornaments around the neck indicate a Greek period.

The cover of the upper half of a mummy-case, in unglazed red pottery, in the usual form, representing the face and shoulders of a person, is a noteworthy specimen. The face is colored yellow, apparently before baking; the head and all the exterior are colored yellow, with red and black faintly intermingled, the inside remaining red. Holes through the edges are for fastening down this cover on the sarcophagus, which was perhaps also of pottery. The interior shows the numerous finger-marks of the workman in the soft clay while pressing the face into the mould.

That the Egyptians possessed tin at an early period the abundance of bronze objects fully attests. Their knowledge of oxides of metals is shown in various ways, notably in the colors employed in decorating pottery. At the period of the Exodus we are told that the Israelites were directed to purify the gold, silver, brass, iron, tin, and lead taken from the Midianites. Tin might have been obtained from India, as there is abundant evidence of Egyptian commerce with those countries at least fourteen hundred years before Christ.

The glaze sometimes used was evidently not stanniferous, neither does it show the presence of lead. It was siliceous, and the color was intermingled with the glaze. Small objects are found in which the color seems to have been mixed with the clay, and unbaked beads of soft clay, colored deep-green, have been found in Egypt, and also in Cyprus, whither they were probably exported from Egypt. The green and blue colors were probably obtained from copper; the red, which is more rare, from iron; the yellow from silver; the purple from manganese or gold; the white from tin.

Lamps are found, probably of Roman time, covered with a hard green glaze, much crackled, and presenting a singular resemblance to Chinese enamelled potteries. Lamps of red and buff-colored pottery of the Roman period, down to the fourth century of the Christian era and later, abound. Christian inscriptions, designs, and symbols on these lamps are frequent. A toad was a common form of the top of a lamp. We have several of this form in bright-red pottery. Names of saints, crosses, the labarum, religious sentences, are frequent ornaments. On one, a red-ware lamp in our collection, obtained in Egypt in 1856, is an inscription, remarkable as a rare instance of apparent quotation from the New Testament
Share on Google Plus