Egyptian Collars


The Egyptians loved to wear broad necklaces, which we call collars. Most paintings or statues of well-off Egyptians show them wearing a collar, and many actual collars have been found. Most of these are made from tube-shaped beads, or beads shaped like flower buds. Some collars were made from actual flowers, now dried up after thousands of years. The rich could afford collars made from gold and semi-precious stones, like carnelian, turquoise, lapis lazuli, and feldspar.


Ramses I wearing a collar


Collar of faience (glass) beads in the Manchester Museum

Tutankhamun's Gold Falcon Collar


Here is one of Tutankhamun's collars. It represents a falcon and is made from sheet gold, engraved.


Many collars had a counterweight at the back. This was to balance the collar. The front half could be quite heavy and so the collar would tend to fall forward. The counterweight stopped this.


The Egyptian for collar was 'wesekh', which means 'wide'.


Height: 16.5cm

Width: 30.3cm


Tutankhamun's Broad Collar

Inside his innermost coffin Tutankhamun was buried with six collars, each with falcon heads at the ends. This amazing example was found draped over the king's thighs.

The collar has 11 main sections made of gold, as well as a counterweight. Each section has 8 rows of plaques, made of coloured glass. The glass was meant to imitate semi-precious stones: light blue for turquiose, dark blue for lapis lazuli, and red for carnelian. The ninth row represents flower buds.

Height: 27.2cm
Width: 35.5cm.


Flower Collar

This collar is made from dried up flower petals, leaves, papyrus, berries, faience beads, and linen cloth. It was found in Tutankhamun's embalming cache - a store of items related to Tutankhamun's burial - in the Valley of the Kings. It is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The plants are: olive leaves, persea leaves, cornflowers, blue lotus petals, Picris flowers, and nightshade berries.

Width: 40cm


Collar of Neferuptah

This stunning necklace belonged to Princess Neferuptah of the 12th dynasty. It was found in her tomb, which was near the pyramid of her father, King Amenemhat III (who ruled around 1860-1814BC).

The collar is made of hundreds of beads, made from gold, carnelian, feldspar and glass paste. Once again there are flower buds at the bottom and falcon's heads at the ends, with a counterweight at the back.

Width: 36cm


Faience Collar

This colourful collar is made of faience (glass) beads, shaped and coloured to look like the buds, petals, and fruits of various plants.

The collar was made in the time of pharaoh Akhenaten, around 1353-1336BC (just before Tutankhamun was born).

At parties someone might wear a collar of real leaves and flowers; this version would last much longer and was more suitable for the afterlife.