Face Beads

  • Egypt
  • 1st century B.C. - 1st century A.D.
  • Glass
Catalogue Entry / Mosaic Face Beads

Mosaic glass was used for the decoration of beads. These beads have mosaics of human face designs inlaid into their surface. The white face is depicted with details in red and black. These faces are either arranged in a line around the center of the bead, or they are interchanged with mosaic abstract patterns. There are two types of face seen in these beads, with either the upper body of a woman shown, or just her face. The face-only images are said to represent the mask of Medusa, one of the three monster Gorgon sisters who appear in Greek mythology. Each hair on Medusa's head was said to be a snake, and those who saw this frightening image were turned into stone. Medusa had her head cut off by Perseus and this severed head motif was used in various ways to ward off evil. Here, a small square shape surrounds the face image and this is thought to represent the face of Medusa surrounded by snakes. These beads may also have served as protection against evil.

Mosaic Glass Inlays Face Beads