EA1725

* An Egyptian Carnelian Snake Amulet, Late Period, ca. 664-332 BC

This very fine amulet is hand carved from a beautiful fiery carnelian in the form of a snake head. Drilled horizontally for attachment, it represents a snake head, probably that of a cobra. The fine cross hatch incisions across the head indicate scales, the eyes and definition of the mouth all add to a lifelike representation.

Called variously mfert (meqret), mnferyt (menqeryt) and mnfebyt (menqebyt), amulets representing the head and forepart of a snake prevented the owner from being bitten or devoured by the hostile serpents of the Netherworld. Chapters 33, 34 and 35 of the Book of the Dead are specifically concerned with the repulsion of serpents, but these texts are not found on the amulets themselves. 

Dimensions: Length:  1 inch (2.5 cm)

Condition: Intact and in excellent condition overall.

Provenance:  Forming part of the Lenman/Stohlman collection assembled by the Washington D.C. socialite Miss Isobel H. Lenman (1845 - 1931), in the early 1900’s. Loaned and accessioned by the Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., between 1916 and 1921 where it was exhibited until her death in 1931. Thereafter, the collection was returned to her heirs and sold around 1937 to Dr. Martin Stohlman, remaining with the Stohlman family until 2011.   Smithsonian loan number: #316022 (part)

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