Necklaces and Collars

Wesekh Collar

Khnumet´s Necklace The alternative hieroglyph for a collar

Probably the most characteristic form of Egyptian jewellery is the collar ("wesekh" or "weskhet"). The collar often had a counterpoise, known as "mankhet" ("that which lives"). It was composed of cylinders or tubes strung in horizontal layers around a central choker. The collars often have an outer row of leaf-shaped pendants, but sometimes the leaf beads are strung between two rows of horizontal beads.

The collar was a favourite of the gods and the pharaohs and from the Eighteenth Dynasty they were given to officials, dignitaries and soldiers as a mark or honour. Although the collars were often made of gold, example made of other precious metals (such as copper and silver), gemstones (most notably Feldspar, Carnelian, Jasper, Turquoise and Lapis), stone and faience have also been recovered.

Tutankhamun's vulture collar @copywright 2005 Daniel Speck statuets of egyptians wearing wesket collars, Third Intermediate Period

Menat Collar

The hieroglyph for a collar

The menat was closely associated with the goddess Hathor. It was composed of numerous strings of small beads gathered at each end and threaded through two or more larger circular beads. Many examples also have a counterpoise which often included an inscription to Hathor or an image of the goddess.

Hathor as a cow wearing the menat collar

The menat was worn by priests and priestesses of Hathor, and was used by female and male dancers along with the Sistrum (also associated with Hathor). It is thought that it also became a musical instrument when combined with the sistrum. The earliest examples so far discovered belonged to two priestesses of Hathor who lived during the Old Kingdom.

a counterpoise @copyright Guillaume Blanchard

Shebyu Collar

The shebyu (shebu or shebiu) collar was first introduced by Thutmosis IV (New Kingdom). It was often worn by New Kingdom pharaohs but was also given as a reward for valor or distinguished service, especially during the reign of Akhenaten.

 Psusennes Shebyu collar

The collar consisted of up to five rows of circular biconical beads strung side-by-side and joined by a central clasp. In some cases, there are also a number of thinner strands hanging from the central clasp (such as in the collar of Psusennes, left).

The collars were often formed entirely out of gold, but examples of collars incorporating faience (such as one from the tomb of Tutankamun).


Simpler necklaces were also very popular. The simple beads on the left date from the Hyksos period towards the end of the Second Intermediate Period.

Simple necklaces were often created using tiny beads of lapis, malachite, turquoise, silver and gold. Beautiful charms representing one of the gods or goddesses were often added to the design to create more complex pieces.

Hyksos jewellery

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copyright J Hill 2010
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Predynastic period Early Dynastic Old Kingdom First Intermediate Middle Kingdom Second Intermediate New Kingdom Third Intermediate Graeco-Roman period Late period