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Work Amulet belonging to Paser, in the form of a papyrus stalk

Department of Egyptian Antiquities: The New Kingdom (circa 1550 to circa 1069 BC)

Amulet belonging to Paser, in the form of a papyrus stalk

© Musée du Louvre/C. Décamps

Egyptian Antiquities
The New Kingdom (circa 1550 to circa 1069 BC)

Author(s):
Patricia Rigault

This "wadj" amulet consists of a little column in the form of a papyrus stalk. It is made of amazonite (a stone of an almost turquoise blue-green color) and is of remarkable craftsmanship. It is set with gold in several places, notably where leaflets surround the base of the shaft and umbel; the details are painstakingly engraved. It belonged to the vizier Paser, a key figure during the reign of Ramesses II.

Amulets, useful jewelry items

Amulets made an early appearance among ancient Egyptian jewelry items and became increasingly popular with time. Their raison d'être was to ensure magical protection to their wearers, both on earth and in the afterlife. Amulets for the dead were fashioned according to precise criteria, mentioned in funerary texts. Their efficacy depended as much on form as on color, material, and any text that might be inscribed on them. When there was room, this explanatory text was accompanied by details of the deceased beneficiary's names and titles. This particular amulet belonged to an important official by the name of Paser, who boasted the titles of Vizier and Overseer of the City.

The powers of the "wadj" column

This amulet was an important element of funerary paraphernalia. Symbolizing new growth and revival, it was naturally associated with the idea of resurrection. Chapters 159 and 160 of the Book of the Dead include instructions regarding the choice of material: green feldspar or amazonite. Paser's amulet is inscribed with columns from chapter 160, which insists notably on the integrity and preservation of the deceased's body.

The vizier Paser

Paser was an eminent figure of the Nineteenth Dynasty. The son of a high priest of Amon, he began his career as a senior official at the court of the Pharaoh Seti I, father of Ramesses II. He notably fulfilled the important roles of head chamberlain and high priest of the goddess Weret-Hekau. He was subsequently appointed to the equally important role of vizier of Upper Egypt, an office he continued to hold for much of the reign of Ramesses II. He was therefore responsible for the community of workers of Deir el Medina, who were constructing the royal tomb at that time. Finally, to round off his busy and prestigious career, Ramesses II appointed him high priest of Amon, like his father.

Bibliography

ZIEGLER Christiane, Cornalines et pierres précieuses, La Méditerrannées de l'Antiquité à l'Islam, 1999, P. 19, 28 N 4, 31, 35, FIG. 2, 23
CENIVAL Jean-Louis, Le livre pour sortir le jour, Le livre des morts des Egyptiens anciens, 1992, P. 101

Technical description

  • Amulet belonging to Paser, in the form of a papyrus stalk

    New Kingdom, Nineteenth Dynasty, reign of Ramesses II (1279–1213 BC)

    A. Mariette excavations, Memphis Serapeum, Egypt

  • Amazonite and gold

    H. 9 cm; W. 3.8 cm

  • Mariette excavations gift, 1852

    E 69, E 68, E 70, E 75

  • Egyptian Antiquities

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