Egyptian amulets functioned in a number of ways. Symbols and deities generally conferred the powers they represent. Small models that represent known objects, such as headrests or arms and legs, served to make sure those items were available to the individual or that a specific need could be addressed. Magic contained in an amulet could be understood not only from its shape. Material, color, scarcity, the grouping of several forms, and words said or ingredients rubbed over the amulet could all be the source for magic granting the possessor's wish.
Small amulets of faience, stone, ceramic, metal, or glass, were common possessions in ancient Egypt. They were most often fashioned in the form of gods and goddesses or of animals sacred to those deities. Amulets gave their owners magical protection from a wide variety of ills and evil forces, including sickness, infertility, and death in childbirth. They were often provided with loops so they could be strung and worn like a necklace. Some amulets were made to place on the body of the deceased in order to protect the soul in the hereafter.
Vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops) are depicted as exotic household pets as early as the Old Kingdom, walking on a lead beside the noble tomb-owners prize hounds. In the New Kingdom, one is often shown tied beneath the tomb ownerâs chair, but is it still a representation of a pet or a symbolic depiction to guarantee the tomb ownerâs sexual prowess in the afterlife? By the New Kingdom, amulets of vervets were undoubtedly worn so that their wearer might assimilate the creatureâs well-known sexual behavior. It is also because of this symbolism that vervetâs feature as decorative elements of cosmetic objects. The creature is frequently depicted squatting with its front paws up to its chin, sometimes holding a small piece of food to its mouth or else playing a musical instrument.
Amulet of the Goddess Taweret
Taweret, the hippopotamus goddess, was the goddess of women and children and, most importantly, of the moment of childbirth. With her rounded belly and pendulous breasts indicating a pregnant female, Taweret was associated most specifically with childbirth, and she was often depicted watching over the birthing bed. Taweret amulets would have been worn during life by women and children. In the tomb, they were placed on the body of the deceased as a symbol of rebirth.
The Taweret and other closely related goddesses were created from a blending of a lion, hippo, crocodile, and human attributes. The three animals were some of the fiercest species found in ancient Egypt and combining their strengths produced a most potent deity and therefore amulet. Taweret's particular responsibility was the protection of women during pregnancy and childbirth. She is often portrayed leaning on a sa symbol. Her representation was sometimes used on tomb walls or funerary equipment to protect the deceased during rebirth.
This great, protective goddess of childbirth was a rather frightening figure who was often depicted in the company of Bes, the protector dwarf god Bes A deity of either African or Semitic origin; came to Egypt by Dynasty XII. Depicted as a bearded, savage-looking yet comical dwarf, shown full-face in images. Revered as a deity of household pleasures such as music, good food, and relaxation. Also a protector and entertainer of children. However, many texts point to the idea that Bes was a terrible, avenging deity, who was as swift to punish the wicked, as he was to amuse and delight the righteous... With a hippopotamus head, a crocodile tail, lion arms and legs, human breasts, and a swollen belly, she scared away any negative spirits who might harm the baby. Amulets with her image were often worn by expectant mothers.
Third Intermediate Period â 21st Dynasty
Art and Culture
With the weakening of centralized royal authority in the Third Intermediate Period, the temple network emerged as a dominant sphere for political aspirations, social identification, and artistic production. The importance of the temple sphere obtained, with more or less visibility, for the ensuing first millennium. Egypt again divided; one dynasty rules in Nile Delta, sharing power with high priests of Amun at Thebes.
Relatively little building took place during the Third Intermediate Period, but the creation of stylistically and technologically innovative bronze and precious temple statuary of gods, kings, and great temple officials flourished. Temple precincts, with the sanctity and safety they offered, were favored burial sites for royal and nonroyal persons alike. Gold and silver royal burial equipment from Tanis shows the highest quality of craftsmanship. Nonroyal coffins and papyri bear elaborate scenes and texts that ensured the rebirth of the deceased.
New emphasis was placed on the king as the child/son of a divine pair. This theme and other royal themes are expressed on a series of delicate relief-decorated vessels and other small objects chiefly in faience, but also of precious metal. The same theme is manifested architecturally in the emergence and development through the first millennium of the mammisi, or birth house, a subordinate temple where the birth of a juvenile god identified with the sun god and the king was celebrated. In Egypt, the Third Intermediate Period was a time of turmoil and economic decline. Control split between pharaohs reigning in the Delta and the priesthood of the temple of Amun at Karnak.
In Egyptian art, there was a strong sense of order, form, and symbolism; certain items held certain meanings. The paintings especially were highly stylized and they told a story. The style of art in Egypt didn't change for three thousand years in part because the artists quite simply obeyed the rules set out for those Amulets are items worn to protect their wearer by their religious associations, a religious equivalent to amour. In ancient Egypt, any item of jewelry is likely to have some amuletic function in addition to its aesthetic, economic, and social values. The religious significance may have varied from user to user, and for each individual according to the moment in his or her lives. It is difficult to assess the relative importance of the amuletic or religious aspect against these other aspects of the item worn. In Egyptology, the word amulet is therefore generally reserved for bodily adornments of unambiguous religious form or context.
In comparison, both amulets had magical powers and both had great powers over birth the vervet was for either living or dead. Taweret Hippopotamus goddess of women and children and most importantly of the moment of childbirth and placed on the deceased as a symbol of rebirth. The vervet monkey served as a sexual prowl ness in the afterlife of the deceased.