Ancient Egyptian Furniture
What type and style of furniture was used by the Ancient Egyptians? As with all societies the type and style of furniture was dictated by the wealth of the owner. Ancient Egyptian furniture was made by skilled carpenters in their workshops but poorer people made their own furniture. The items of furniture which could be found in an Ancient Egyptian home would include stools, beds, lamp stands, chests and shrines. Only the very wealthy or royalty possessed chairs. The types and styles of different ancient Egyptian furniture are detailed below.
Egyptian Furniture - Materials used
The Ancient Egyptians used the following materials to make their furniture:
- Wood from the fig tree
- Mud from the Nile was used to make pots and jars
- Colored fabrics
- The furniture of wealthy Ancient Egyptians was inlaid with ebony and ivory
- Furniture was also inlaid with Faience (Faience was a strong greenish blue glass-like material, consisting of crushed quartz, lime and alkali, which first made in Predynastic Egypt)
- Faience was also used to create glass storage jars
- Semi-precious stones, gold, silver and bronze was also used to decorate the fine furniture of the Pharaoh
- Furniture owned by the elite was of the highest quality and furniture was often veneered and painted with vibrant colors depicting aspects of the life of the owner.
- The Ancient Egyptian furniture of the pharaohs was also overlaid with gold
Egyptian Furniture - Stools
The most popular item of furniture used by the Ancient Egyptians were their stools. Ancient Egyptian stools were produced in a variety of different styles and designs and used by all classes. The stools produced ranged from the simplest design to beautiful, ornate carvings on the legs of the stools. The different types of stools ranged from plain designs, flare legs and the feet of some stools were decorated with carvings of the feet of animals. The Ancient Egyptians also had fold up stools for extra convenience. Earthen ware benches were also used for seating.
Egyptian Furniture - Chairs
A chair fit for a king. Only royalty and the richest Ancient Egyptians had chairs. The chairs consisted of low, wooden frames usually without arms. The seats were made of plaited cord. The decoration of the chairs was often highly ornate and inlaid and overlaid with the most precious materials. The legs and the feet of chairs were finely carved to resemble the such things as the paw of a lion.
Egyptian Furniture - Tables
The Ancient Egyptians used small tables to serve food. Larger tables, often with just three legs, were made of wood but were not a common feature in the ancient Egyptian home. Earthenware platforms were built in with the house which served as a table during the daytime and then covered in the night time and used as beds.
Egyptian Furniture - Beds
The beds of the poor were frequently made from just a bedding of rushing on the floor. The earthenware platforms were also commonly used. The wealthy had purpose made beds which were considered as status symbols. The framework for the beds were made of the finest woods and decorated. Most beds were designed to slope towards the feet and foot boards were therefore added to the style. The base was made from woven rush. Pillows were not used in Egypt. A wooden or stone headrest was preferred as a cooler alternative. These headrests were highly ornate and occasionally wrapped in the finest linen to add to the comfort of the owner. There was also a version of a fold up bed which ensured that even when travelling on a campaign the Pharaoh and other elite members of his household would not be expected to sleep on the floor. Mosquito nets were also known to be used similar in style to their fishing nets.
Egyptian Furniture - Chests
The Ancient Egyptians had no cupboards so everything was stored in chests. As with the other pieces of Ancient Egyptian furniture the style of the chests ranged from simple to the most ornate. The chests owned by the poor were used to store household items and linen. The treasures of the rich were sometimes stored in the chests which were locked with bolts and lashed with ropes for security.
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