This girdle, found among the treasures of Princess Merit, includes nine large, gold beads in the form of double leopard’s heads, facing in opposing directions. The gold beads are spaced by smaller, round amethyst beads. Amethyst was mined in Egypt during the Middle Kingdom in the Wadi el-Hudi, in the eastern desert near Aswan. It was linked symbolically with myths of the protective goddess, known as the “eye of Re,” who was the daughter of the sun-god.
Leopard iconography can be found in various ancient Egyptian artifacts, including jewelry, clothing, and sculptures. Leopards were sometimes depicted on royal regalia, such as the headdresses and collars of kings and queens. The leopard's fierce and predatory nature may have been linked to concepts of strength, authority, and protection.
Our jewelry team recently worked to recreate these beads. Our reproduction of the beads was used to create earrings and a beaded necklace. Our design uses lapis lazuli beads instead of amethyst beads. The ancient Egyptians also adored lapis lazuli, thought to represent the heavens, so the addition of this stone is meant to extend the magical powers of Isis to the afterlife.
Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art