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Colours in Egypt: Material, Text, Production


How to read Egyptian colours

I think examining colors by their modern names is the wrong approach. I prefer to work with Egyptian colours while having the following in mind : 1 What materials were the colour made of in ancient Egypt ?

Things such as how expensive to obtain the material will consequently decide the frequency of using it, and very likely the importance of the object adorned with this specific color

raw materials of ancient Egyptian colours

Basalt palette and grinder used for the preparation of the raw materials of paint here represented by three

pieces of coloured frit. Found in Thebes and probably of New Kingdom date, 1450-1250 BC. Length of palette

12 cm (no.5547). Page 11 Egyptian Paintings in British Muesum T.G.H. James

2 Readings from modern and ancient Egyptian literature, especially coming forth by the day light.

To understand how did the Egyptian perceive colours and what was the meaning behind each.


And in the fields of Abu Sir, and my green land in Heliopolis, I will live on bread of all kinds of wheat and beer of yellow barley. | Going Forth by Day light. CH LII


The basic component of yellow paint is ochre, a natural clay earth pigment. Similarly to red, yellow was the colour of the solar disc and, therefore. that of the sun god. It was also used as a substitute for gold. According to Egyptian tradition, the flesh of the gods was gold, which is why in coffins we can see the face of the deceased - who were reborn as gods in the afterlife - painted yellow. Yellow is a symbol of eternity and immortality.

The yellow paint is made from goethite, a locally available oxide ore composed of quartz grains with inclusions of iron and titanium, which was used as a substitute for gold dust

"33 O Osir, I am your son Horus, and I have your bread from the yellow wheat of Bi" CH173


neshmt .. green blue in ancient egypt


Feldspar - Egyptian colours - Egyptian colors

Amazonite: Modern Name Its name is taken from that of the Amazon River, from which green stones were formerly obtained, though it is unknown whether those stones were amazonite.[4] Although it has been used for jewellery for well over three thousand years, as attested by archaeological finds in Middle and New Kingdom Egypt[8] and Mesopotamia, no ancient or medieval authority mentions it. It was first described as a distinct mineral only in the 18th century - Wiki


Ch 159. book of the dead.. coming forth by the day light- Egyptian colours - Egyptian colors

6 - I am the pillar of Al-Waj made of Neshmt

7 - which is inexhaustible, Thoth gives it

8 - To the one who worships Him "Thoth", who he hates ...

9 - be scratched. If it [The Pillar] is fine

10- I am also fine, so it must not be harmful.

11 - So that I will not be harmed

12 - The opposite is also true, so it should not be scratched

13- So that I don’t get scratched

*Doaa Selim Mohamed Selim,Study of Chapters no. (159 -161-163) Of The Book of the Dead According to papyrus (JE.99067)


Egyptian colours - Egyptian colors -

The basic ingredient of green paint was malachite and copper mixed together. Certain parts of the Underworld, such as The Malachite Field and The Field of Reeds, were often associated with green. The dying and reviving god Osiris was also green. Green is the colour of germination, freshness and rebirth.

Egyptian colours - Egyptian colors

If colour does not match reality, it matches metholoy. Green is the colour of what is holy and what is good. The colour of the baboon here with green is reflection of their position divinty/evil. It is when the colour contrast with reality that it starts to reflect the methology.

The blue colour of head and hair can be understood if we read Going forth by the day light and see that in the very first chapter, Thoth is introduced as one of those devines who were born from Nut.

red in ancient egypt


The basic ingredient for reddish-brown paint is iron-oxide and ochre. By red, we mean several shades of brownish-red. Red is the colour of blood, the desert and the skin of the deity Seth, who threatens the order of the universe, while the rising and setting sun also have a reddish glow. Red is the colour of both danger and life.

Red is also always connected to conflict and violence as we see in different parts of the book

Here we see Thoth talking about himself and his role during the conflict between the disputing Horus and Set, and the metaphor of the color red is used and the removal of the redness of the eyes, which occurs in more than one place to indicate anger, to indicate the elimination of the conflict itself.

''I stood between the disputants

The looks of hatred subsided

I came to you to erase the redness of the eyes

And end the struggle for Horus against evil"


The basic ingredient for white paint was plaster and limestone mixed together. Official mourners in ancient Egypt wore white, but the characteristic colour of Egyptian festive dress was also white. Priests almost exclusively dressed in white and their ritual implements were often made of white alabaster. White is the colour of the sacred. mourning the dead, and ritual purity

Black - Ⲁⲟⲩⲁⲛ ⲛ̀ⲭⲁⲙⲉ

Black paint was made from coal, which occurred in nature in various forms, such as ashes of plants and soot. Black symbolised the afterlife: the skin of the jackal god Anubis was painted black, for example. The mud of the River Nile, which covered the fields after the inundation and ensured fertility, was also black. Hence, black may have been used to refer to rebirth and renewal in the ancient egyptian colour philiosphy.

Representaion of Egyptins' skin
The color of Egyptian men was red like the meat
102 - Stele van Sais - Leiden Musem

They looked like the meat they eat. Eventhough they Produced black.

The same red they used for meat was used to paint the skin of the man. (Can be seen in the stele van Sais) The Egyptians depicted themselves in red most of time- with exceptions and varities (black and yellow).

Egyptian boy in Museum
Egyptian boy in Museum wharscheinlich 2023

Hatshepsut colored as a man in red, beside her an Egyptian man

(I do not know the owner of the pic)

Gold - Ⲁⲟⲩⲁⲛ ⲛ̀ⲛⲟⲩⲃ

One of the double doors of the gilt shrine

Two Golden Jedj Columns for you

Blue and it's Royality.

I do not remember why have chosen this title. Maybe I have copied it from the course I refered to here in the article. It is now clear to me that Blue is not royal, Blue is Divine. It is the colour of th Urmother, we look to the blue sky and we see her. Nut, the one who gave birth to the divine ones. Blue are we when we unite with the devine. we leave our earth features and unite with Nut. This we can see clear as the passed away person starts to turn into Lazuli

I anointed your head, sir, on my way north

Your hair is like the braids of a Syrian woman

Your face is as luminous as the house of the moon

Your head is made of lapis lazuli

Your black locks are star gates on a dark night

Lapis lazuli strands of hair on your face

And Ra will shine on your face and be covered with gold

Horus covered it for you with lapis lazuli

Your eyebrows are equally black

Horus covered them with lapis lazuli for you

Your nose is fueled by the breeze

Your eyes see Mount Bakhu

Your eyelashes are always fixed

 Lapis Lazuli in egyptian language
Lapis Lazuli

Information on the material to be added

 Lapis Lazuli

All that was clear from the start was that the beauty depicted was a queen. This was shown by the high wig, which was painted blue at the hairline, which is intended to indicate that the queen, like every divine being, has hair made of lapis lazuli. However, Borchardt was probably already sure about the identity of this female portrait on the evening of the day it was found.'' 1

Turquoise in Egyptian language

Turquoise is a stone which gained its value primarily comes from Sina and a lot of trouble requires to getting hold of it. It is used as stone inlay for Jewelry

Dr Steven snape
The first thing we need to recognize is that when the Egyptians refer to things within a color in a color setting, they tend not to use the word for color in isolation to refer to things which were made of that color. An example: Turquoise can refer to a substance it can also refer to the color which is the same color as the substance itself but which might be created by artificial means. 4. What About Blue? Dr Steven snape


*Please note that this article is still being updated, all copyrights will be added. This is a non-Profit website with sole aim to spread and learn more about the Egyptian Architecture. 1 Nofretete - Philipp Vandenberg

Von vornherein klar war eigentlich nur, daß es sich bei der dargestellten Schönen um eine Königin handelte. Das zeigte die hohe Perücke, die am Haaransatz blau bemalt war, was andeuten soll, daß die Königin wie jedes göttliche Wesen Haare von Lapislazuli hat. Vermutlich war sich Borchardt jedoch schon am Abend des Fundtages über die Identität dieses Frauenbildnisses sicher.'' 1 1 Colors in Ancient Egypt. Joshua J. Mark 2 Ch LXXVII . Coming forth by daylight Budapest, Fine Arts musem, Egyptian collection in Hungary

A short History of Tomb-raiding, Maria Golia

Colours used Egyptian Art

Lapis lazuli Photos links Turquoise Meaning: Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Healing Properties Lapis Lazuli History and Lore Doaa Selim Mohamed Selim, Publication and Study of Chapters no. (159 -161-163) Of The Book of the Dead According to papyrus (JE.99067) in the Cairo Museum (A linguistic and comparative study) A research for Acquiring the Master Degree In Egyptology



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