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Egyptian Pottery

( Originally Published Late 1800's )

The people which built and wrought a history which they failed to write could scarcely do else than convey to us by their handiwork abundant evidences of their en deavors in the various thoroughfares through which, by necessity, they were obliged to develop their arts. Their tombs, burial places, and other inclosures are pregnant with material proofs of their industry and indomitable energy, and most prominent among the various relics there found are those belonging in the catalogue of ceramics.

Denon remarks that the arts of other nations are only the spoils of the Egyptians, but the scholars of Greek history declaim almost as stoutly for Greece, yet impartial consideration would doubtless allow to Egypt a wellestablished precedence in the application and use of fictile wares. Good authorities represent that crockery-ware was invented by the Egyptians, who introduced it into Greece in the year 1490 B. C., and in one hundred years from that time it was in general use.

The first form that Egypt gave to clay was of exceeding simplicity, being nothing but plain beads of earthenware, in their natural red color, and used only for personal ornament. These constituted, according to a French author, their b bijouterie. How long this primitive form continued without improvement it is impossible to state; but probably the next step was the application of glazing, which was of green or blue color. The earliest approach to significant form is the clay Scarabaeus, or sacred beetle, and peculiarly crude representations of Isis, with the hawk's head-cap, and Osiris.

Often as the Scarabocus has been repeated by them it is not surprising that this, as a very simple figure, should have been attempted. These also were worn as orna ments in the shape of amulets, bracelets, and seal ringsa hole being bored through them longitudinally to admit of a cincture by which they were secured.

Another form of pottery frequently met among these remains, and doubtless of very great antiquity, is the cinerary urn, a conical vessel in which reposed the ashes of cats, the ibis, the ichneumon, and other sacred animals, these also being deposited in the tombs; but the utmost excellence to which the Egyptians succeeded in this art is found in their vases, some of which are far from uncomely in shape, although the decoration is crude and conventional, the colors used being chiefly brick red, blue and green, sometimes applied in outline to produce the figures commonly known in Egyptian portrayal.

One extraordinary feature of these wares is the enamel. A blue enamel of cobalt, now unknown in the arts, is of such exceeding hardness as to produce sparks when applied to the emery wheel. This probably accounts for the freshness and perfection in which some of the specimens have reached their present age.

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