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The Egyptians used the same term, menefret (mnfrt), for bracelets and anklets but by adding the words 'for the arms' - net awy (nt'wy) - they were able to distinguish quite clearly the functions of these ornaments, which often came in matching sets. Another even less informative term, 'appurtenance of the arms' - iryt awy ('ryt 'wy) - was employed in the same dual way.
 
The earliest bracelets are in some ways little more than shorter versions of the strings worn around the neck. The finest examples - four in all were found on a wrapped arm in the tomb of Djer at Abydos. The one nearest the wrist consists of lapis lazuli and hollow gold balls, flanking irregularly shaped turquoise beads and gold triple ring-bead spacers, with a single hollow gold rosette at the centre; these are strung on gold wires and animal hair plaited together and were originally closed by a loop-and-ball fastening.


Ancient Egyptian bracelets



Ancient Egyptian bracelets


Ancient Egyptian bracelets

The best-known bracelet is composed of twenty-seven alternating turquoise and gold plaques, the latter apparently cast in an open mould in the form of an archaic crouched falcon atop a rectangular serekh, with its characteristic palace facade paneling. The serekh usually contained the Horus name of the king, associating him with the ancient falcon-form sky-god, and a series of dots on each bead may be a crude rendering of the serpent hieroglyph with which Djer's name was written. 
 
The beads are graduated in size, with markings on the back of each to indicate its position; a single pyramid-shaped bead of gold at each end acts as a terminal. A series of gold plaques embossed with the cartouche of Sety II surmounted by feathers, with suspension rings at each corner, came from the Gold Tomb in the Valley of Kings; although eighteen centuries later than Djer's serekhs, these plaques presumably formed a similar royal bracelet.



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