Page images
PDF
EPUB

Egyptians. On an oval slab of green granite,1 in the British Museum, is inscribed a scarab encircled by a serpent having his tail in his mouth. The same design is found on another oval,2 but the beetle has a human head and arms; above the head are rays, and above that the legend €IAAMvr'; to the right is a star, to the left a star and crescent, and beneath the hind legs three stars.

The scarab is an antiquity which is readily bought from the native of Egypt by modern travellers of every nationality ; it is easily carried, and is largely worn as an ornament by ladies in their necklaces, bracelets and rings, and by men in pins and rings. As the number of visitors to Egypt has been Modem steadily increasing for many years past, it follows of necessity ture 0f that the demand for scarabs has increased also, and the price scarabs, of these objects has risen in proportion. The late Sir Gardner Wilkinson, during one of his visits to Egypt, anchored his dltahabiyyeh3 opposite Kurnah at Thebes, and in the afternoon a native brought him a bag full of scarabs, many hundreds in number, which he had that day taken out of the ground in a tomb from under the coffin of a mummy. These scarabs were of a fine green colour and made of steatite; they were all inscribed with the name and titles of Thothmes III. Sir Gardner Wilkinson bought a handful of these for an English pound, but each scarab might now easily be sold for two pounds. The supply of scarabs varies year by year, some years but few are to be had, and some years they are very common. The supply cannot be inexhaustible, although the demand for them appears to be so. The native has discovered Modem that the European not only wants scarabs, but that he wants Tmk<a° scarabs inscribed with the names of particular kings; and as scarabs, these are not always forthcoming, he has found out the way to make them. The imitation of scarabs by the modern native of Egypt began about sixty years ago. At first the number produced was few, and they were so clumsily made that it was soon apparent that they were forgeries. In later

1 G. 455, Table-Case N, Fourth Egyptian Room.
* G. 483, Table-Case N, Fourth Egyptian Room.

■ Arab, ij^jjt J .

days, however, the native has brought skill and thought to bear upon the matter, and he sets about his work in a systematic way. He has seen what the old faience scarabs are made of, and he can now make a paste very much like that of which they are made. From the old broken ushabtiu figures, scarabs and beads, he chips off the thin layer of Process of green or blue covering for his use. A large number of manufac- genuine moulds for scarabs have been found, and from ture of these and others which he makes like them, he turns out

scarabs.'

large numbers of scarabs ready for glazing. For glaze he uses the pieces which he has collected from broken genuine scarabs, etc., and he spreads this over the paste with a blow-pipe. When he wishes to make steatite scarabs he obtains the steatite from the mountains where the ancient Egyptians found it. There is a large amount of artistic skill in many natives, and with a little practice they are able to cut very good scarabs. The discoloration of the genuine scarab is easily imitated by keeping them in wet sand, earth and ashes, and if he wants to glaze them he makes use of the same method as in glazing his paste forgeries. For inscriptions he usually follows slavishly those inscribed on genuine scarabs, of which he keeps a good supply. In this matter, however, he is greatly helped by the act of an English traveller, who wrote out for one of these imitators a list of all the most important kings of Egypt! which he now imitates with great success. He sells hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of his scarabs yearly, and many of them bring a high price. One has only to see the excellent way in which some of the natives can make a fine and correct reproduction in stone from a sculpture in a tomb or temple, to understand how well the native can imitate such things. Colours and other materials and tools can now be easily obtained in Egypt, and through the support of numerous purchasers who have bought readily for some years past, the production of forgeries of antiquities in general, and of scarabs in particular,1 has become

1 And this, notwithstanding the statement, "Generally speaking, forgeries— except of one or two obvious kinds—are very rare, and there is nothing like the amount of doubt in the matter which is often supposed to exist." Petrie, Historical Scarabs, p. 6.

a very profitable business. At more than one place in Egypt JJjjfjjjjjw

scarabs, bronze figures, etc., etc., have been so well imitated ture oi

that experts were deceived and purchased them. Genuine Jjj^qui"

ushabtiu figures and bronze statues of gods are cast in moulds

found among the ruins of ancient Egyptian towns, wooden

Ptah-Seker-Ausar figures and boats are made from the

planks of old coffins, and as it is evident that the substance

itself is genuine, the unwary collector is thrown off his guard.

In certain dealers' houses at Thebes and elsewhere, the visitor

will always find a large assortment of forgeries, even on the

tables set apart for genuine antiquities, and he will be able to

compare and judge for himself.

The reverence shown by the Egyptians to the scarab, as

an emblem of the Creator, was not shared by neighbouring

nations. Thus Physiologus, after describing how scarabs roll Physiolo

, . , , , , , , , gus on the

up their eggs in balls of dung, and how they push them scarabseus.

backwards, and how the young having come to life feed upon

the dung in which they are hatched, goes on to say that we

may learn of a certainty that scarabs are heretics1 who are

polluted by the filth of heresies; that these balls, which are

formed of filth and nastiness, and which they roll backwards

and not forwards, are the evil thoughts of their heresies,

which are formed of wickedness and sin, and which they roll

against mankind, until they become children of error, and by

being participators in the filth of their heresies they become

other beings and like unto them. See Land, Anecdota

1 The ignorance of the habits and manner of life of the scaralxeus which is displayed by certain Syrian writers upon natural history is marvellous; here is a specimen: "The scarabseus receiveth conception through its mouth, and when it cometh to bring forth, it giveth birth to its young through its ears. It hath the habit of stealing, and wherever it findeth small things and things of gold and silver it taketh and hideth them in its hole. And if pulse be found in the house it taketh [it] and mixeth [it] up with [other] things, chick-peas with beans, and beans with lentils, rice with millet and wheat, and everything which it findeth it mixeth up together in the place where it hideth itself. It thus doeth the work of the cooks who mix such things together to make to stumble those who buy pulse at the shops. And if any man taketh note of it and smiteth it, it taketh its vengeance upon [his] clothing. If having collected pieces of money and taken them forth to the race-course or to play with them, they be taken away from it, it wandereth about and turneth hither and thither, and if it findeth them not it straightway killeth itself." Ahrens, Das Buch der Naiurgegenslande, text, p. 41, translation, p. 62.

Syriaca, torn. IV. p. 77, cap. 56. Bar-Hebraeus, commenting in reVirc* i^orc", on Psalm lxxviii. 45, and referring to the words ^_OJrf A^Kto re^olu ^jacm\s. i.tx. (Heb., QH3.

ttP l^y, he sent among them the gad-fly, LXX., 'E£»7reareiXev eii avroixt Kvvofiviav), "he sent against them crowds of insects and they devoured them," includes the scarab (jiai^*o plur. l^o^£ii,; ]A»ai^*»> plur. Vai^q^*^) among noxious

creatures like dog-flies, scorpions, ants, etc. . en . rt^Lcuu*

K£uou pd^ix.ct i^aajo i^Auio^i^o (^iau.ax.0

•:• retail .iTn.i

Amulets.

The I. The Buckle or Tie m. This amulet, called by the

Buckle of 0 g I1

Isis. Egyptians J ^ ^ is one of the commonest objects found

among collections of Egyptian amulets. It was most commonly made of red jasper, carnelian, red porphyry, red glass or faience, and sycamore wood; sometimes it was made entirely of gold, and sometimes, when it was made of substances other than gold, it was set in gold, or covered over with gold leaf. Buckles are usually uninscribed, but frequently when two or more are found together the 156th chapter of the Book of the Dead is engraved on them. The buckle was placed on the neck of the mummy, which it was supposed to protect; the red material of which it was made represented the blood of Isis. The formula which is inscribed on buckles reads:—

[ocr errors]

Re en 0et ent xenemet er XeX

Chapter of the buckle of red jasper placed on the neck

en Xu senef ent Auset hekau

of the deceased. The blood of Isis, the incantations

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

sa ur pen sau an

protection of mighty one this, protecting [him from] the doing of

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][table][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »