Welcome back! Last time I talked about Ancient Egyptian amulets in general - and some of the iconic symbols that many if you had previously seen. This week I wanted to delve a little deeper into a few of the more obscure, yet quintessentially Egyptian motifs. ( It has been hard for me to decide what to include, as this topic enchants me. I thank you for your attention and perseverance!)
The Tyet knot, also called the "Girdle of Isis" depicts a looped and folded cloth; they were placed on the neck of the deceased. The tyet symbolizes strength/power/protection. They are often red, for blood, as they represent the blood of Isis; her protection and by association the magic and power with which she raises the god Osiris/her husband from the dead. Life and death and regeneration are the essential beliefs in Ancient Egyptian mythos.
The Djed pillar represents stability, strength, endurance, and protection. Symbolically it depicts a stylized Tree of Life and simultaneously Osiris' backbone. It was placed... near spines of the mummies and was thought to lend them strength. The spell in the
Book of the Dead associated with them calls out to the god: 'Raise yourself up Osiris! You have your backbone once more. O weary-hearted One; you have your vertebrae!'
Amulets of Egyptian deities were worn to honor that god or goddess and seek their protection. There are so many, and so many interesting myths - I cant go into it all here...
( The Ancient Egyptian Mythology page gives an overview... )
I will be discussing materials and methods in my next post though...
What really inspired me lately - both in the studio and to write these posts - were the heart amulets.
|Images from Walters Art Gallery, The Met, British Museum|
Their shapes are reminiscent of urns - urns where the mummified actual heart was placed. These amulets were only used for the deceased, placed at the heart. Vessels often symbolize the soul across cultures, but to the Ancient Egyptians it was more: For the ancient Egyptians, the heart (ib) was the source of intelligence, feelings, and actions. A person's memory was also housed in the heart and so at the judgment ceremony (Weighing of the Heart) in the afterlife, the heart was able to speak on behalf of the deceased, accounting to Osiris for a lifetime of deeds. Therefore, heart amulets were only used on the mummy to protect the owner's organ and to ensure that his heart gave a positive response at judgment.
Balanced against a feather? Yes. the feather of Maat. She was the Goddess of truth, justice, balance, order, law, morality. She was world order and harmony; without her - chaos. So when the heart was balanced with a feather - it was a feather that stood for... "rightness" and a life lived in harmony with the principles of the culture.
But I digress. The beads.... the inspiration... harvest from the studio ^10 gas fire reduction kiln...
These are stoneware, very rustic, with a simple stain of iron oxide. The larger round one has bits of glaze in the impressed designs. I am thrilled with the results, and may have to save one for myself to wear at Beadfest! ( Come see me - Booth 461). I see it with earthy colors; jasper, jade... or maybe turquoise! Hmm. What do you think?
Until next time -