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Turquoise djed pillar amulet

Turquoise djed pillar amulet (EA 48667)


Height: 10.000 cm

EA 48667

Room 62-63: Egyptian mummies

    Turquoise djed pillar amulet

    From Egypt
    Late Period, after 600 BC

    The backbone of Osiris

    The djed pillar amulet was one of the most common of all those placed on the mummy. A number of them could be strung around the lower torso, or placed singly on the upper chest or around the neck. The djed pillar symbolized stability and endurance. Although its form was originally that of a tree whose branches had been cut off, it later became the backbone of the god Osiris. A spell in the Book of the Dead activates such an amulet, saying 'Raise yourself up Osiris! You have your backbone once more, O weary-hearted One; you have your vertebrae!'

    Gold was prescribed as the suitable material for the djed pillar amulet, as it does not tarnish and therefore endures for eternity. Of course, gold was expensive, so yellow faience was sometimes used instead. Blue faience, glass or lapis lazuli were also commonly used. To the ancient Egyptian, the colour blue was associated with regeneration. The reddish-brown stone carnelian was also used, symbolizing new life.

    The symbolism of form, colour and material were so designed that the amulet functioned perfectly to ensure that the deceased was reborn and endured in the Afterlife.

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


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