The Erotic Jewels of the Past : Ancient Egypt

The Erotic Jewels in the Past :
Ancient Egypt
by PJA Woode

In the first of a series of articles for Sylvie Monthule, PJA Woode looks at the jewels of Ancient Egypt

When you think of Ancient Egypt it’s quite likely that the first thing to come to mind are the pyramids. Then there are the stunning temples and breath-taking tombs. But after that you probably think of the treasures of Tutankhamun and all the wonderful jewels that were found in his tomb.

The Ancient Egyptians adored jewelry and were keen wearers and collectors. Jewels were used to show wealth, enhance beauty, maintain health, give fertility and to commemorate the dead. Bracelets, necklaces, rings, ear-rings were as common then (well, at least among the rich) as they are today.

But was there an erotic twist
to ancient Egyptian jewelry?

To some extent there was. Anklets, worn by women (and occasionally men), were very popular.  There are plenty of examples of women wearing two pairs of anklets. Sometimes they were delicate, made of twisted gold wire. But they could also be quick bold and thick – resembling a modern day choker in appearance.  It seems that they convention was to wear an anklet on each ankle – symmetry was important.

An example of a bold anklet

Anklets were often combined with armlets, too, as apparent in many of the figures found on temple walls. Snake designs often featured in armlets, and these were associated with fertility. Unlike anklets, armlets might only be worn on one arm

Bracelets, armbands, collars and quite probably
a nipple covering

Girdles – which we would now call waistchains – were also worn by both sexes. These comprised strings of beads worn round the waist. Some of these girdles featured cowrie shells, which were symbolic of a vagina. It is thought that they were worn on a girdle so that they could hang as close to the female genitalia as possible, providing some form of magical protection perhaps.

A princess and her maids adorned with body jewels

Women often went topless in ancient Egypt, and jewelry worn round the neck, such as collars, torques and necklaces, was probably designed to enhance women’s exposed breasts. This might explain the size and magnificence of many collars.

There is also a suggestion in the figures on temple walls and in paintings in tombs that some high class women – perhaps priestesses or members of royal families – also wore nipple coverings. And there is evidence from at least one entombed body of a priestess of gold foil covers for the navel, nipples and vulva. Funerary breast ornaments for women are recorded in several places

Strong evidence of a nipple cover ?

Nipples feature a great deal on figures of women on temple walls. Some depictions of nipples are very plain, while others appear to be more decorated. Perhaps this is the artist showing the areolae, but I would like to think that these were nipple coverings and I sense they would have looked truly spectacular

As far as the penis is concerned, there is little evidence of anything worn over it. Though erect penises do feature on temple wall and in paintings in tombs and while there are possible hints of a ring worn at the base of the shaft in some images, it is difficult to be sure. We can only guess whether they were worn or not.

A magnificent if unadorned pénis

Indeed, the true extent of erotic jewelry in Ancient Egypt is difficult to assess. Just because we don’t see certain items depicted in temples and tombs doesn’t mean they didn’t exist. There are, for example, very few illustrations of men or women wearing girdles, but we knew they wore them.

Given that most of the treasures were excavated in for more conservative times, it is more than possible that erotic items could have been overlooked, not recorded or wrongly categorised as something far less exciting. However, I have a hunch that there was rather more erotic jewelry worn then than we believe. And I also think that it would have looked truly stunning, set off by the dazzling Egyptian sunlight.

Sadly Ancient Egyptian jewelry can’t be bought and can only be seen at museums. But if you would like to buy some beautiful jewels from Sylvie Monthule’s Breath of Pleasure collection, inspired by Ancient Egypt, you can do so here: And you can be sure to find plenty of stunning jewels for the most erotic parts of the body.

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