Historical period(s)
Late Period, 664-332 BCE
Medium
Faience (glazed composition)
Dimensions
H x W x D: 16.7 x 7.1 x 1.2 cm (6 9/16 x 2 13/16 x 1/2 in)
Geography
Egypt
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1907.28a-b
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Faience
Type

Amulet

Keywords
Egypt, Hathor, Late Period (664 - 332 BCE), Menat, protection, vulture
Provenance

To 1907
Unidentified owner, Egypt, to 1907 [1]

From 1907 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased in Egypt from an unidentified owner in 1907 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]

Notes:

[1] See Original Pottery List, L. 1848, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919

Label

This keyhole-shaped object served as a counterpoise on a menat necklace consisting of several strands of tiny beads.  At the straight end are two perforations for the attachment of bead strands. Centered near this end is the incised image of a vulture who wears a headdress and holds a flail.  At the rounded end is the incised image of the kheker. This symbol is most likely a bundle of reeds bound together, forming a rosette-like design. The menat was a symbol of the goddess Hathor. The vulture incised on this example is also symbolic of the goddess Hathor, as well as of the goddess Mut.


Menat necklaces are sometimes depicted around the neck with the counterpoise hanging down between the shoulder blades; with the counterpoise extended, it could be held in the hand. As a ritual object, the necklace may have been shaken to allow the beads to connect with the counterpoise and fend off evil spirits by the noises this action created. During the festival of Hathor, the priestesses of the goddess would go from door to door shaking menats and sistra (rattle-like musical instruments) to endow the occupants of each house with the favors of life, health, and rebirth. The menat is also found in graves, where it was worn as an amulet to protect the deceased in their transition and rebirth in the afterlife.

Published References
  • Paul T. Nicholson. Egyptian Faience and Glass. Shire Egyptology, 18 Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire, UK. .
  • Ann C. Gunter. A Collector's Journey: Charles Lang Freer and Egypt. Washington and London, 2002. p. 131, fig. 5.6.
Collection Area(s)
Ancient Egyptian Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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