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inches in height: one side presents a flower, and the other an inscription, containing, according to Sir J. Davis (in three out of eight he examined), the following legend :-" The flower opens, and lo! another year;" and another has been translated by Mr. Thoms:-"During the shining of the moon the fir-tree sends forth its sap," (which in a thousand years becomes amber.)
The quality of these bottles is very inferior, and of a time, as Sir J. Davis thought, "when the Chinese had not yet arrived at the same perfection in making porcelain as at present." They appear to have been only prized for their contents; and after they were exhausted, the valueless bottle was applied to the
ordinary purpose of holding the Kohl, or Collyrium, used by women for staining their eyelids.*
It has been questioned, if the Egyptians understood the art of enamelling upon gold or silver, but we might infer it from an expression of Pliny, who says: "The Egyptians paint their silver vases, representing Anubis upon them, the silver being painted and not engraved ;" and M. Dubois had in his possession a specimen of Egyptian enamel. The reason of the doubt is our finding so many small gold figures with ornamented wings, and bodies, whose feathers, faces, or other coloured parts are composed of a vitrified composition, let into the metal. But they may have adopted both processes; and it is probable that many early specimens of encaustum were made by tooling the devices to a certain depth on bronze, and pouring a vitrified composition into the hollow space, the metal being properly heated, at the same time; and, when fixed, the surface was smoothed down and polished.
Both the encaustic painting in wax, and that which consisted in burning in the colours, were evidently known to the ancients, being mentioned by Pliny, Ovid, Martial, and others; and the latter is supposed to have been on the same principle as our enamelling on gold.
Bottles of various kinds, glass, porcelain, alabaster, and other materials were frequently exported from Egypt to other countries. The Greeks, the Etruscans, and the Romans received them as articles of luxury, which being remarkable for their beauty were prized as ornaments of the table; and when Egypt became a Roman province, part of the tribute annually paid to the conquerors consisted of glass vases, from the manufactories of Memphis and Alexandria.
The intercourse between Egypt and Greece had been constantly kept up after the accession of Psammitichus and Amasis;
* Since the above was written, a paper has been presented by Mr. Medhurst to the Royal Asiatic Society, which would establish the fact of their having been brought by the Arab traders, if, as there stated, the style of the characters did not come into use till the 3rd century of our era; and the poems, from which the sentences were taken, were not written till the 8th and 11th centuries. The earliest mention of porcelain in China is also limited to the 2nd century B.C. bottle was found by Mr. Layard at Arban, on the Khaboor.
and the former country, the parent of the arts at that period, supplied the Greeks and some of the Syrian tribes with numerous manufactures. The Etruscans, too, a commercial people, appear to have had an extensive trade with Egypt, and we repeatedly find small alabaster, as well as coloured glass, bottles in their tombs, which have all the character of the Egyptian; and not only does the stone of the former proclaim by its quality the quarries from which it was taken, but the form and style of the workmanship leave no doubt of the bottles themselves being the productions of Egyptian artists. The same remark applies to many objects
found at Nineveh.
It is uncertain of what stone the famous murrhine vases, mentioned by Pliny, Martial, and other writers, were made; it was of various colours, beautifully blended, and even iridescent, and was obtained in greater quantity in Carmania than in any country. It was also found in Parthia and other districts of Asia, but unknown in Egypt; a fact quite consistent with the notion of its being fluor-spar, which is not met with in the valley of the Nile; and explaining the reason why the Egyptians imitated it with the composition known under the name of false murrhine, said to have been made at Thebes and Memphis. The description given by Pliny certainly bears a stronger resemblance to the fluor-spar than to any other stone, and the only objection to this having been murrhine, is our not finding any vases, or fragments, of it; and some may still doubt if the substance is known to which the naturalist alludes. But the fluor-spar appears to have the strongest claim; and the glass-porcelain of Egypt, whose various colours are disposed in waving lines, as if to imitate the natural undulations of that crystallised substance, may be the false murrhine of the ancients. (Woodcuts 170, fig. 2; 171, fig. 5.)
It is difficult to say whether the Egyptians employed glass for the purpose of making lamps or lanterns: ancient authors give us no direct information on the subject; and the paintings offer few representations of lamps, torches, or any other kind of light.*
Herodotus mentions a "fête of burning lamps," which took
* In the funeral processions one person carries what seems to be a candle or torch.
place at Saïs, and indeed throughout the country, at a certain period of the year, and describes the lamps used on this occasion as small vases filled with salt
A guard apparently with a lantern.
and olive oil, on which the wick
The sculptures of Tel-el-Amarna, again, represent a guard of soldiers, one of whom holds before him what appears to be a lamp, and resembles the cloth or paper lanterns so common in Egypt at the present day. celebrated for their manufacture
The Egyptians were always of linen and other cloths, and the produce of their looms was exported to, and eagerly purchased by, foreign nations. The fine linen and embroidered work, the yarn and woollen stuffs, of the upper and lower country are frequently mentioned, and were highly esteemed. Solomon purchased many of those commodities, as well as chariots and horses, from Egypt; and Chemmis, the city of Pan, retained the credit it had acquired in making linen stuffs, till about the period of the Roman conquest.
Woollen garments were chiefly used by the lower orders: sometimes also by the rich, and even by the priests, who were permitted to wear an upper robe in the form of a cloak of this material: but under garments of wool were strictly forbidden them, upon a principle of cleanliness; and as they took so much pains to cleanse and shave the body, they considered it inconsistent to adopt clothes made of the hair of animals. No one was allowed to be buried in a woollen garment, in consequence of its engendering worms, which would injure the body; nor could any priest enter a temple without taking off this part of his dress.
*See Vol. i. p. 333. Herodot. ii. 81.
The quantity of linen manufactured and used in Egypt was very great; and, independent of that made up into articles of dress, the numerous wrappers required for enveloping the mummies, both of men and animals, show how large a supply must have been kept ready for the constant demand at home, as well as for that of the foreign market.
That the bandages employed in wrapping the dead are of linen, and not, as some have imagined, of cotton, has been already ascertained by the most satisfactory tests; and though no one among the unscientific inhabitants of modern Egypt ever thought of questioning the fact, received opinion in Europe had till lately decided that they were cotton; and it was forbidden to doubt that "the bands of byssine linen," said by Herodotus to have been used for enveloping the mummies, were cotton.
The accurate experiments made, with the aid of powerful microscopes, by Mr. Bauer, Mr. Thomson, Dr. Ure, and others, on the nature of the fibres of linen and cotton threads, have shown that the former invariably present a cylindrical form, transparent, and articulated, or jointed like a cane, while the latter offer the appearance of a flat riband, with a hem or border at each edge; so that there is no possibility of mistaking the fibres of either, except, perhaps, when the cotton is in an unripe state, and the flattened shape of the centre is less apparent. The results having been found similar in every instance, and the structure of the fibres thus unquestionably determined, the threads of mummy cloths were submitted to the same test, and no exception was found to their being linen; nor were they even a mixture of linen and cotton thread.
The fact of the mummy cloths being linen is therefore decided. The name byssus, it is true, presents a difficulty; owing to the Hebrew shash being translated "byssus" in the Septuagint version, and, in our own, fine linen;" and to shash being the name applied at this day by the Arabs to fine muslin, which is of cotton and not of linen; but as the mummy cloths said by Herodotus to be "of byssine sindon," are known to be invariably linen, the byssus cannot be cotton. Herodotus, indeed, uses the expression tree wool" to denote cotton; and Julius Pollux