Plateau égyptien en bois d'acajou
Magnificent 19th century grand tour Egyptian revival inlaid charger or tray. Profusely inlaid with mother-of-pearl and bone in finely detailed polychromed hieroglyphics. It is in excellent condition for its age. Throughout the late 18th and 19th centuries it became fashionable for the most important of British society to embark on 'The Grand Tour', a journey of cultural enlightenment encompassing the important sights of the ancient capitals of classical Europe, the Near East, Egypt and The Holy Land. The 'Tourists' as they became known, often brought back items from places visited, some of the more extravagant and exotic pieces, such as this example, are rare surviving pieces. The Egyptian hieroglyphic script was one of the writing systems used by ancient Egyptians to represent their language. Because of their pictorial elegance, Herodotus and other important Greeks believed that Egyptian hieroglyphs were something sacred, so they referred to them as ‘holy writing’. Thus, the word hieroglyph comes from the Greek hiero ‘holy’ and glypho ‘writing’. In the ancient Egyptian language, hieroglyphs were called medu netjer, ‘the Gods’ words’ as it was believed that writing was an invention of the Gods.
The script was composed of three basic types of signs: logograms, representing words; phonograms, representing sounds and determinatives, placed at the end of the word to help clarify its meaning. As a result, the number of signs used by the Egyptians was much higher compared to alphabetical systems, with over a thousand different hieroglyphs in use initially and later reduced to about 750 during the Middle Kingdom (2055-1650 BCE).