Page images

portion of the text it is declared that all these shall come forth to meet Sepå on his arrival in the Other World, and that they shall bear in their hands their staves, and their mattocks, and their ploughshares, and their clubs, so that in the event of any attack being made upon him by any hostile god, they may deliver their kinsman forthwith.

The use of amulets played a very large part in the Egyptian religion. They were generally made of stones and other materials believed to possess magical properties, which their wearers were supposed to acquire. A fine collection of Egyptian amulets is exhibited in the Fourth Egyptian Room (Table-case F), where examples of every authorized shape and kind will be found. In connexion with these the unrivalled collection of scarabs should be examined (Tablecases D, E, G, I).

The following are the principal amulets mentioned in funerary texts or found in tombs with, or on, the bodies of the dead: The scarab, or beetle, kheprer

bhoher AOA

, was the symbol of the god Khepera, and represented generation, new life, virility, and resurrection. The Heart, äb Ö, symbol of the seat of life in the bodies of gods,

[blocks in formation]

La mana mund El
his friends, he may meet his uncles and aunts,

he may meet

For more en


his connexions,

he may meet his friends who did things for

- A f omu
mim ca o
he may meet his woman (whom] he loved

o 4 mm

this Sepa upon earth, Onun

sa and knew, etc.


[graphic][merged small][ocr errors][graphic][merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small]

animals, and men, and emblem of the conscience; it brought to the wearer the protection of both Osiris and Rā. The heart was associated with the scarab, and the same hekau, or words of power, were written on both. The importance of this amulet is shown by the fact that in the Book of the Dead six chapters are devoted to formulas for the protection of the heart. The Girdle of Isis, thet , assured the wearer of the divine protection of the holy blood of the goddess. The Țet i, a fetish, the original significance of which is unknown. In later times it symbolized the tree trunk in which the body of Osiris was hidden by Isis, and also the upright, consolidated back-bone of the god. Its general meaning is stability. The Pillow ; typified the raising up and preservation of the head. The Vulture brought with it the protection of the great “Mother” Isis. The Collar y gave strength and power to the breast, heart, and lungs, and symbolized the dominion of the wearer over all Egypt. The Papyrus Sceptre represented the strength, vigour, and virility of youth, and abundance of every kind.

The human-headed Hawk ensured to the deceased the power of uniting his body, soul and spirit at will. The Ladder symbolized the ladder by which Osiris ascended from the earth to heaven. Models of this were buried with the dead in the tombs, and when the deceased needed a ladder he uttered the Chapter of the Ladder, and the model ladder became as long as he wanted. The Two Fingers E , index and medius, represent the fingers which Horus used when he helped his father Osiris up the ladder which reached from earth to heaven.

The Utchat o typified the strength and power of the Eye of Horus, or Rā, i.e., the Sun-god, the two eyes gave to the wearer the strength and protection both of the Sun and Moon. The Ankh †, or symbol of “ life.” What object this amulet represented is unknown. The Nefer or lute, signified “happiness, good luck,” etc. The Serpent's Head o protected its wearer when alive against snake bite, and when dead against the attacks of worms and serpents in the tomb. The Menát presented nutrition, and the union of the male and female powers of nature, generation, etc. The Sma y symbolized animal pleasure. The Shen was the emblem of the orbit of the sun in heaven. King Besh, of the Ilnd dynasty, wrote his name within this circle, which in an elongated form o became the cartouche of the later kings. The shen was the symbol of the eternal protection of the name by Rā.

The Steps symbolized the throne of Osiris, and procured for the wearer "exaltation ” to and in heaven. The Plum ymbolized Isis and Nephthys, who had their seat on the forehead of Rā, and the Maāti goddesses, or goddesses of Right and Truth. The Frog was typical of teeming life and the resurrection. It was the symbol of the goddess Heqt, the wife of Khnemu, who made the first man on a potter's wheel, and when laid on a dead person transferred to him the new life which was in the body of the goddess. The Pesesh-Kef Y suggests the idea of second birth in connexion with the ceremonies of Opening the Mouth. The mouth of the mummy, or of a statue, was touched with this amulet, or instrument, whilst the priest recited words of power; as a result of that the mouth was "opened,” i.e., the deceased could henceforth talk, think, walk, eat, drink, etc., in the Other World. A fine example of this amulet in Aint (Table-case M, Third Egyptian Room) of the Neolithic Period proves that the idea of “opening the mouth " is older than the dynasties of Egypt. The Solar Disk on the horizon g syinbolizes life which renews itself, resurrection, virility, strength, etc. The Neterui 77, or 77, represent the two iron instruments used in the ceremony of “opening the mouth”; their presence among the swathings of the mummy, or in the tomb, secured for the deceased the protection of the gods of the South and the North.

On rare occasions all the amulets mentioned above have been found in one tomb, or on a single body. A good example of a collection of amulets found on a single body is No. 4 (Table-case K, Fourth Egyptian Room). Here will

or in the top South and the need above have

be seen uraei, the menat, the utchat, the scarab, the shen, the triad of Isis, Nephthys, and Harpokrates ; the papyrus sceptre, the heart, the plumes, the two fingers, țets, etc.; the places on the body on which they were found are indicated by the labels. Another class of amulets is represented by the figures of gods, goddesses, and sacred animals, which were either worn as pendants to necklaces, etc., during life, or placed among the swathings of the mummified body. Of these the British Museum possesses very large collections, and the finest examples of them will be found in Wall-cases Nos. 119-132, in the Third Egyptian Room. A very remarkable group of amulets or objects, which were intended to give protection to the tomb of the priestess for whom they were made, is exhibited in the Second Egyptian Room (Wallcase No. 73). It consists of a set 4, a human figure ), a jackal #, and a reed, and each object stands on a small inscribed brick of Nile mud. The ceremony in which these were used is described in the Book of the Dead (Chapter CXXXVII). The text is only found in the Papyrus of Nu (No. 10,477), and the group of objects which illustrates it appears to be unique.

In connexion with the numerous ceremonies which found a prominent place in the cult of Osiris must be mentioned two classes of magical figures. It has already been said that the righteous who lived in the kingdom of Osiris were employed in the cultivation of the Maāt wheat, on which both they and Osiris lived. Now, before this wheat could be grown, it was assumed that the land of the celestial fields had to be prepared and watered, and renewed with top-dressing, just like the fields on earth. These laborious agricultural works were performed by a celestial corvée, which was under the general control of the “Henbiu," or gods of the Celestial Domain Lands. These gods provided estates for the blessed, and carefully watched the land measurers to see that they carried out their orders. They also provided gangs of beings to work these fields, and set taskmasters (Tchatchaiu) and time-keepers (Kheru āhāu) over them, so that they might make them toil their appointed time. Why these beings were condemned to forced labour cannot be explained, for not a word is said which would suggest that they were sinners, and that their work was a punishment. The Egyptian theologians appear to have been incapable of conceiving a heaven in which there was no corvée to performi menial tasks, and equally

« PreviousContinue »