Production of faience in ancient Egypt
"Dazzling... that which is brilliant or scintillating like the light of the sun, or the moon, or the stars, gleaming and lustrous with the brilliance of immortality.” This is the definition the Ancient Egyptian’s held for their word tjehnet... a word we know as Faience. To the entire ancient world, the Faience amulets, vessels and jewelry created by the skilled hands of Egyptian artisans glistened and shimmered with a light that came to represent birth, rebirth and eternal life.
During the Middle Kingdom period, the cementation method of glazing was developed and used; the forming techniques remained simple such as modelling and moulding on a form or core. The faience production flourished in the New Kingdom when a greater diversity of shapes and techniques were introduced that probably derived from the advance of glass technology. These techniques helped improve the faience body by mixing it with frit and powdered glass and this improvement, coupled with the introduction of new designs and ideas, led to enhanced material, colours and shapes. Many of the finest faience objects were produced in this period.
Faience manufacture appears to have declined in quality during the Third Intermediate Period, with a return to the traditional methods and the loss of much of the technical knowledge. The Late Period witnessed a revival in faience production, and a new range of excellent objects and glazing appeared. The Greco-Roman Period shows evidence of close relations between faience production and pottery manufacture which includes throwing faience vessels on the wheel and applying glaze as slurry. The faience link to pottery in the Roman period probably caused a shift towards glazed pottery production and gradually led to the decline of faience.