Amulet, wadjet eye - ROM2019_17388_7


Amulet, wadjet eye

Medium:Glazed composition (black faience)
Geography: Undetermined site, Egypt
Date: c. 380-343 BC
Period: 30th Dynasty, Late Period
1.4 × 2 × 0.4 cm
Object number: 986X2.21.4
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt

The wedjat eye, whose Egyptian name means 'the sound one' or 'the healthy one' ,was one of the most popular of all Ancient Egyptian amulets. It represents the eye of the falcon-headed god, Horus. The markings underneath the eye resemble the markings around the eyes of the Lanner falcon, who may have been the early model for Horus. In one story, Horus' eye was ripped out by his uncle Seth during a battle. The eye was magically restored by the god Thoth, who can be depicted holding the healed eye. In another story, the Wedjat is the eye of Horus-the-Elder, whose right eye was the sun, and whose left eye was the moon; the moon could be seen as injured, waxing and waning, and as an eye in need of healing. On the other hand, the wedjat would represent the sun, the 'healthy' eye. After the god Osiris rose to prominence at the end of the Old Kingdom, the eye was usually identified as the eye of his son, Horus. The Sacred Eye, depicted as a wedjat eye, is mentioned in Spells 140 and 167 of The Book of the Dead.

This black faience amulet, pierced for suspension, has detailed Lanner falcon markings. It would have have been sewn onto the wrappings of a mummy. It was not uncommon, in the Late Period, for a mummy to have an actual or veritable necklace of many wedjat eyes sewn or placed outside the bandages, around the neck. The series of wedjat eyes are often graduated, as here. The threat of having one's head removed after death was mentioned in Spell 43 of the Book of the Dead. "The head of Osiris shall not be taken from him, and my head shall not be taken from me." Such an array of Sacred Eyes would have been intended to secure the head to the body.

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