Egyptian colors

Four color elements were heavily used in Egyptian jewelry: orange/red (carnelian), dark blue ( lapis), turquoise, and gold. Each of these had a symbolisn to the ancient Egyptians. Most of the materials were chosen for underlying symbolism or amuletic significance.


Turquoise was not diferentiated from green. It was the color of new vegetation, growing crops. fertility and resurrection. Turquoise was a big favorite with Egyptian into the predynatic times. In the Old and New Kingdom, men mined turquoise in mines in the desert near the Red Sea and in the Sinai under inhuman conditions for Pharaoh. Archaelogists study these mining camps for evidence on how ancient Egyptians actually lived. these camps are virtually untouched because of their remote locations and because there was no treasure to lure looters like in the tombs. It's amazing how long things last in the absence of water. Turquoise was a big favorite for charms worn as hair ornaments. There is is neat story about Snefru first Pharaoh of Dynasty 4 (2613-2589 BC). One day when he was bored he got this idea to have the ladies of the harem row him around the lake ( probably one of those lakes in the pyramid complexes) clad only in fishnet (how kinky!). One of his favorites' turquoise hair ornaments fell into the lake while she was rowing and she refused to continue. Snefru had one of the magicians part the waters of the lake and retrieve the ornament, then the rowing continued.


Dark blue (lapis) was the color of the all-embracing night sky. The Egyptians unlike later Western cultures which considered the sky as a male deity (Apollo for example) they invisioned the sky as a female deity, Nut, who created the gods and humans from her union with the earth a male deity called Geb. Lapis was really valued because all of it was imported. Lapis lazuli occurs naturally in only two places on the earth: Afganistan and Mexico.


Like orange with the seedbeadfrenzy crowd, orange/red had a schizophrenic significance. Red was then color of blood with connotations of energy, power, and life itself. Red is the color of the desert and the color of the desert god Set. Set was the brother of Isis and Osiris and the murderer of Osiris. As his color, red signified disorder, storms. and aridity. Set is often portrayed as a red-head.


Gold was the material of the flesh of the gods, the color of divinity. Incorruptable, it was used in the funeral masks of the Pharaohs their gods on earth gone to join the Horus in the orb in death. The only surviving example of this spectacular use is the funeral mask fo Tutankamen since all the other Pharaohs' tombs had long since been looted.