Faience wedjat eye amulet

From Egypt
Third Intermediate Period, 1068-661 BC

The 'sound' eye that restores life

The wedjat eye is perhaps the best known of all Egyptian protective amulets. The drop and spiral below the eye imitate the markings on a lanner falcon, the bird associated with the god Horus. The name wedjat means 'the sound one', referring to the lunar left eye of Horus that was plucked out by his rival Seth during their conflict over the throne. The restoration of the eye is variously attributed to Thoth, Hathor or Isis. The injury to the eye and its subsequent healing were believed to be reflected in the waxing and waning of the moon.

The first use of the wedjat eye as an amulet was when Horus offered it to Osiris. It was so powerful that it restored him to life. The regenerative and protective powers of the amulet meant that it was placed among the wrappings of mummies in great numbers. It could even replace food offerings in rituals. It first appeared in the late Old Kingdom and was used until mummification was no longer practised, in the Roman Period (30 BC - AD 395)

Amulets were made from many different materials, but blue or green faience was the most common, as these colours symbolized regeneration to the ancient Egyptian. The wedjat eye was also worn by the living. Faience factories have been found at Tell el-Amarna, where rings with wedjat eye bezels were very popular among the inhabitants.

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More information

Bibliography

C.A.R. Andrews, Amulets of Ancient Egypt (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)

Dimensions

Length: 6.300 cm
Width: 5.100 cm

Museum number

EA 29222

YCA62700

Location

Find in the collection online



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