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An Egyptian Red Jasper Isis Knot Amulet, Late Period, ca. 722-332 BC

The Tyt-knot, also known as the girdle of Isis, has been described as "an open loop of material from whose bound lower end hangs a long sash flanked by two folded loops". Its name may derive from Egyptian tayt, meaning "shroud" or "curtain".  Even in written sources the meaning and symbolism of this object seems to be similar to those of the ankh, and the sign is often translated as "life" or "welfare." Knots were widely used as amulets because the Egyptians believed they bound and released magic. 

By the New Kingdom, the symbol was clearly associated with Isis, perhaps due to its frequent association with the djed pillar. The two symbols were therefore used to allude to Osiris and Isis and to the binary nature of life itself. The association of the sign with Isis leads to it being given the names, "the knot of Isis" (as it resembles the knot which secures the garments of the gods in many representations), "the girdle of Isis" and "the blood of Isis."

Because of the latter name, "blood of Isis," the sign was often used as a funerary amulet made of a red semi-precious stone such as carnelian, red glass or jasper such as this example. The Book of the Dead, spell 156, states, "The blood of Isis, the spells of Isis, the magical words of Isis shall keep this great (or shining) one strong, and shall protect him from whosoever would harm him do to him such things as the abominateth." The Book of the Dead also specifies that that the symbol be made of blood-red stone, and be placed at the deceased's neck.

Dimensions:Height: Overall: 3/4 x 3/8 in. (1.9 x 1 cm)

Condition:Intact and in very good condition overall.

Provenance:Private NY collection, thereafter on loan to the Michael C. Carlos museum, Emory University, Atlanta GA 1998 - 2015, loan number: L1998.062.111, acquired from the London trade.

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