Nile Blue: Mimicry

Blue glass made in ancient Egypt can be confused for Egyptian faience or lapis lazuli because of its similar color and luster.  This similarity was intentional as the ancient Egyptians wanted a material that mimicked lapis lazuli, an imported and costly stone.  Glass was by no means an inexpensive alternative.  Even as the ancient Egyptians perfected this craft, glass remained a luxury item.  

Shown here are examples of non-glass blue pieces:  a scarab, an amulet, and a foundation offereing.  Blue green glass items can be confused for Egyptian faience or lapis lazuli because of its similar color and luster.

Lapis lazuli Scarab from The Penn Museum

Scarab made from Lapis Lazuli

Scarab beetles, the symbol of the sun gods, were often carved on the backside with imformation and the scarab could be used as a stamp.  This scarab is not carved on the revise-side.  

This blue scarab is made from a highly-prized stone called lapis lazuli.  Lapis lazuli was imported into Egypt from Afghanistan.  The Egyptians placed particular spiritual significance on this blue stone because they believed the sun god had hair of blue, like that hue of lapis lazuli.  Some scholars believe it was the Egyptian's desire for lapis lazuli that motivated thier attempts to create a similar looking material.  



This Amulet of Bes out of Egyptian faience mimics the same blue hue that the Egyptian desired from lapis lazuli, a far more costly material.  Becuase of the make-up of faience, this material was best suited to small items such as, beads, figurines, small bowls, cosmetic jars, and amulets like this one of Bes.  Bes was the god of newborn children and families and is often depicted as part dwarf and part lion.

Egyptian faience is a non-clay ceramic made out of crushed quartz.  Faience has a white, granular core and covered in a blue glaze.  


Ancient Egyptian Foundation Offering in Fish Form from Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesit

This foundation offering in the shape of a fish is made from Egyptian Faience.  Foundation offerings were placed before construction of a building or structure.  The offering could be representations of items, like this faience fish, and usually the offereing matched the purpose of the building.  



Nile Blue: Mimicry