Five Udjat eyes amulet, Dyn. 25

Five Udjat eyes amulet, Dyn. 25
Period:Egypt, 3rd Intermediate Period, Dynasty 25 and Contemporaries
Dating:747 BC–656 BC
Origin:Egypt, Upper Egypt
Material:Faience (all types)
Physical:5.9cm. (2.3 in.) - 32 g. (1.1 oz.)

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Links to others from Dynasty 25 and Contemporaries

Amulet of Duamutef, Dyn. 25
Amulet of Imsety, Dyn. 25
Bronze Imhotep seated, Dyn. 25 (?)
Bronze Nefertem pendant amulet, Dyn. 25
Bronze of a queen nursing, Dyn. 25
Bronze of King Shabaka ? as Osiris, Dyn. 25
Bronze of Ptah, Memphis, Dyn. 25
Bronze ritual pendant of Osiris, Dyn. 25
Bronze ritual pendant of Osiris, Dyn. 25
Bronze statuette of Ptah, Dyn. 25
Faience amulet of Qebhsenuef, Dyn. 25
Horus-the-Child as Amun, 776-656 BC
Horus-the-Child, Dyn. 25, 776-656 BC
Mentuemhet, prince of Thebes, Dyn. 25
Osiris-Neper, god of agriculture, Dyn. 25
Queen Aqaluqa as Isis nursing, Dyn. 25
Queen as Goddess Neith seated, Dyn. 25106

Queen as Isis nursing, Dyn. 25
Scarab of Piankhi, Dyn. 25
Twenty-eight udjat eyes amulet, Dyn. 25
Udjat eye amulet-pendant, Dyn. 25
Udjat eye amulet-pendant, Dyn. 25

Links to others of type Udjat Eye

Pair of udjat eyes of Horus, Dyn. 18
Twenty-eight udjat eyes amulet, Dyn. 25
Udjat eye amulet-pendant, Dyn. 18
Udjat eye amulet-pendant, Dyn. 23
Udjat eye amulet-pendant, Dyn. 23
Udjat eye amulet-pendant, Dyn. 25
Udjat eye amulet-pendant, Dyn. 25
Udjat eye amulet-pendant, Dyn. 26
Udjat eye amulet-pendant, Dyn. 26
Udjat eye amulet-pendant, Dyn. 26
Udjat eye amulet-pendant, Old Kingdom
Udjat eye amulet-pendant, Old Kingdom
  This rare faience amulet pendant pictures one large udjat eye surrounded by four small ones. The reverse is without markings.

Flinders Petrie classifies a similar udjat as Type 140 C, “quadruple eye” (1914:33, Plate XXV-140g).

Udjat Eye
Instantly recognizable, the Udjat Eye (also wedjat, uzat) remained one of the most popular amuletic symbols from the Old Kingdom to Roman times. Although Egyptians designed countless variations on the theme over this 2500 year period, the basic design remained constant: the eye of the God Horus, drawn as a human eye with a cosmetic line extending from the outer corner of the eye, an enhanced eyebrow line, and a stylized marking below the eye evoking the cheek of a falcon.

The Udjat eye (the Egyptian word means “sound”, “whole”, “undamaged”) was reputed for its great healing and protective power. But, as noted by Hart (1986:93), it has many meanings, including “The strength of the monarch, the concept of kingship, protection against Seth [chaos], royal purification agent, wine, and offerings at the festival of the waxing moon.” The tales that account for the source of this extraordinary power are varied and colorful.

Egyptian sources document the protracted relentless fight (both in a court of law and in violent physical encounters) between Horus and Seth to settle who should inherit Egypt. Said to have lasted 80 years, this brawl yielded countless anecdotes. In one of them, Seth gouged out Horus’ left eye (you can hardly blame him, as Horus had assaulted his mother for refusing to harpoon him while they were transformed into hippopotamuses). Fortunately, Goddess Hathor intervened and healed the eye with the therapeutic application of gazelle milk (an alternate version makes the god Toth the healer, and another indicates royal saliva as the therapeutic agent of choice). However it really happened, this conveniently restored eye thus became a symbol of miraculous healing. For good measure, a later epilogue describes Horus offering his healed eye to his dead father Osiris, immediately bringing him back to life.

While the unscathed right eye of Horus symbolized the sun, the plucked and then restored left eye symbolized the moon, with the phases of the moon reflecting the damaged, plucked, healing, and healed conditions of the eye over time. Strangely, despite the symbolic importance of this healed left eye, Udjat eyes can be either left or right eyes, and often are a pair.

“Its great protective qualities can be seen from the fact that it was often depicted on the plate which covered the embalming incision on the mummy’s flank. Not only would it prevent malign influences entering, but it would also magically heal the wound. The wedjat is probably found in greater number in mummies than any other amulet, but, of course, it could also be worn in life” (Andrews 1994:43).

“The earliest wedjats are mostly very stylized… Elaborate glazed-composition wedjats… first occur in the New Kingdom. The most ornate, however, date to the Third Intermediate Period and the Twenty-fifth Dynasty… finger rings and scaraboids with their backs carved in the shape of a wedjat are typical of the Nineteenth Dynasty… If one wedjat gave protection, multiple wedjats would furnish even mor during the Third Intermediate Period… Yet while all these highly decorated types of wedjats were being produced, the basic form continued to be made. . .” (Andrews 1994:44).

Petrie (1914) classifies Udjat eyes into five types, numbered 138 though 142, each subdivided into varieties labeled with capital letters.

Amulets are objects generally kept on the person that are believed to confer some benefit to the wearer. While turn of the century archeologist Flinders Petrie (1914) enraged that “the belief in the magic effect of inanimate objects on the course of events is one of the lower stages of the human mind in seeking for principles of natural action. . .”, he had to concede that the use of amulets, talismans, and charms is very ingrained in many cultures to the present day. Many of us use lucky pens and wear religious medals without believing literally in their powers to affect our lives. But we still use them. They help us muster the confidence we need in times of self doubt. They empower us to dare, to believe in ourselves, to heal ourselves. Egyptians may have felt the same way. They used amulets on themselves and on their dead. Egyptians also seem to have had a passion for jewelry, and amulets were a good excuse to wear more jewelry.

Egyptians created an astonishing variety of amulets. The Dendera Amulets List, engraved on the thickness of a temple doorway, shows 104 different amulets for funerary use. The MacGregor Papyrus shows and names each one (Andrews 1994:7). Petrie described some 270 kinds of amulets in his 1914 monograph on the subject, and yet it was published before the excavation of many sites rich in amulets! He devised a classification system which, for all its flaws, is useful and still stands as no worse than any devised since to put order in that which defies classification: “The various ascertained meanings may be completely put in order under five great classes… (I) the amulets of Similars which are for influencing similar parts, or functions, or occurrences, for the wearer; (II) the amulets of Powers, for conferring powers and capacities, especially upon the dead; (III) the amulets of Property, which are entirely derived from the funeral offerings, and are thus peculiar to Egypt; (IV) the amulets for Protection, such as charms and curative amulets; (V) the figures of Gods, connected with the worship of the gods and their functions… Our classes then are here called amulets of
Similars, or Homopoeic.
Powers or Dynatic.
Property or Ktematic.
Protection or Phylactic.
Gods or Theophoric.”
(Petrie 1914:6 #17)

The evolution of amulets follows a fairly logical path. The first amulets were natural objects such as shells, and symbolically charged body parts of animals, such as claws from birds of prey. Then, still in predynastic times, we find figurines of significant animals, such as the hippopotamus, falcon, and jackal. Through the Old Kingdom, there was a development of animal forms with increasing levels of sophistication, and by the middle of the Old Kingdom we find the abstract symbolic subjects (such as the Ankh (sign meaning “life”), the Udjat eye of Horus, the Djed pillar, and the scarab) which remain some of the most emblematic symbols of Egyptian culture. During the First Intermediate Period we find amulets representing human body parts (ear, tongue, hand, arm, phallus, leg, heart...). The Middle Kingdom expanded the whole range of objects and gave the scarab its final form. But despite this considerable repertoire, amulets representing major gods remained rare until the end of the New Kingdom, at which time they suddenly flourished, and became as a group the most prevalent type until the end of Dynastic history. (Andrews 1994)

Bibliography (for this item)

Petrie, W.M. Flinders
1914 Amulets. Constable & Company, London, UK. (33: # 140 type C # 140 g
Plate fig. 140 g)

Bibliography (on Udjat Eye)

Andrews, Carol
1994 Amulets of Ancient Egypt. University of Texas Press, Texas. (43,69)

Armour, Robert A.
2001 Gods and Myths of Ancient Egypt. 2nd edition. American University in Cairo Press, Cairo, Egypt. (175)

Hart, George
1986 A Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, United Kingdom. (93)

Petrie, W.M. Flinders
1914 Amulets. Constable & Company, London, UK. (33)

Shaw, Ian, and Paul Nicholson
1995 The Dictionary of Ancient Egypt. British Museum Press, London, United Kingdom. (133)

Bibliography (on Amulet)

Andrews, Carol
1994 Amulets of Ancient Egypt. University of Texas Press, Texas.

Petrie, W.M. Flinders
1914 Amulets. Constable & Company, London, UK.

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