Friday, August 9, 2013

Folklore Friday: Have a heart ( Ancient Egyptian amulets Part2)

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!'

Thoth, Sekmet & Tawaret. glazed clay/faience.
 App. 1.75" - 2"
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

Left: Anubis, God of Afterlife leads the soul. Center:Anubis (smaller) weighs the heart/urn against the feather of Maat. Right: Ammit, the Devourer of the Dead (hybrid crocodile, lion, hippo) awaits to eat any souls deemed unworthy. Thoth, God of Writing records the ritual. A jury of gods and goddesses are seated above to witness. 
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 - 


  1. Oh I can see some seed beaded amulets in my future soon! Thank you for these lessons!

    1. Gee shucks. I am just glad someone else is interested...

  2. How interesting! I could see those in jasper and jade for sure! and I love anything in turquoise personally :) and anything you make!

    1. I am sorting beads today... and my fingers are itching to make something to wear! Must do chores first!

  3. Oh, drool! These are so very cool!! I hope you have some of these left (or make more) upon your return because my head is again spinning with ideas! Yes, turquoise for sure,...and other rugged/rustic stones as well,....oh yummy!

    1. Sweet! Glad I could inspire... and yes - there will be more! This first batch was a test, and was well received. Sometimes I wonder if a new item will appeal to anyone besides me, you know?

  4. This was fascinating to read and I can't wait to see your urn inspired work at Bead Fest!!!


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