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Glossary

incense

the smoke or odor produced by the burning of an aromatic substance

Islam

the name of a religion that is centered on the Qur'an, the word of God as passed through the Prophet Muhammad

pendant

an ornament or piece of jewelry attached to a necklace or bracelet

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Beauty and Fashion in the Islamic Period
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Egypt's women were once described by a historian as being the most delicate women in character and the most beautiful in the world. Women in Islamic times took special care and interest in their external appearance, all within the limits of what was permitted by the Islamic religious rules.

For instance, a woman was only allowed to dress beautifully and use cosmetics to please her husband. Women usually went to the bath halls to make themselves beautiful. Final touches such as brushing their hair and putting on perfume were usually done at home in front of the husband to impress him.

Women used perfumes such as musk, amber, and incense. Special bottles were used to preserve the wide collection of perfumes used at the time. Two silver bottles and a glass bottle used as perfume containers are found in the Islamic Museum.

During the Mamluk period, women considered to be of great beauty were those who had a soft, fair complexion, and a round face. They were also usually extremely fat with big full breasts and wide hips. Evidently, the women at the time tried to be overweight to please the men.

Sadly, very few accessories and jewelry pieces remain. This is probably because they were usually melted down and redesigned as they became outdated. Another possible reason is their great value, which always encouraged trading in them.

Nevertheless, historical sources did provide us with some knowledge concerning the precious golden and silver jewelry which is enameled. Several pieces of jewelry are found at the Islamic Museum in Cairo including pendants, rings, bracelets, and earrings. These rare and few items are proof of women's interest in jewelry and accessories at the time.

During the Mamluk period, amber necklaces were widely used. They were called "Amberiya". Other famous accessories found at the time are chokers and pierced necklaces similar in appearance to lace.

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Scent Bottle
Scent Bottle

Perfume Sprinkler
Perfume Sprinkler

Glass Rosewater Sprinkler with Court Scenes
Glass Rosewater Sprinkler with Court Scenes

Gold Bracelet with Lion Heads
Gold Bracelet with Lion Heads

Golden Bracelet
Golden Bracelet

Long-Necked Copper Bottle
Long-Necked Copper Bottle

Gold Ring with Red Ruby
Gold Ring with Red Ruby

Golden Necklace with Pendants and Jewels
Golden Necklace with Pendants and Jewels

Gold Earrings Decorated with Interlaced Wires
Gold Earrings Decorated with Interlaced Wires

Earrings with Two Pendants
Earrings with Two Pendants

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