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Work Ram Pendant
Department of Egyptian Antiquities: Religious and funerary beliefs
© Musée du Louvre/C. Décamps
Religious and funerary beliefs
This richly decorated piece of jewelry would originally have formed part of a breastplate of which there now remains only the central section. It shows, in profile, a god whose body is wrapped in a shroud, with a ram's head and wearing a composite crown: the representation of a creator god. He is seated on a lotus flower. A great Egyptian myth tells how the sun emerged from a lotus flower on the first morning of creation.
Jewelry of Striking Colors
A constant quest for brilliant hues characterizes Egyptian jewelry. The gold plates of the pendant, soldered together, served as a support for inlays of semi-precious stone and colored glass. The cloisonné cells still show traces of alternating blue lapis lazuli and green paste in the ram's wig and lotus leaves. The solar discs above the cobras would have been filled with red glass. On the reverse side, however, the metal plate is decorated with fine engraving, invisible when the pendant was suspended by its ring. Other motifs, on either side of the ram-headed god, would have flanked the pendant to form a complete breastplate.
A Composite Portrait
Shown in profile, the enshrouded god wearing the atef-crown is seated on a lotus flower. The decoration of the crown is particularly detailed. The uraeus cobra and the solar discs show that this is a personification of the Sun. The ram is the sacred beast of the great creator gods. The most famous of these, the ram of Amon, has bowed horns framing its face. The rams of Khnum - a god venerated at Elephantine - and of Herishef of Herakleopolis, have great twisted horns extending horizontally. Which god is being evoked here?
"The Sun on a Lotus"
In Egyptian literature and decoration, the flowering lotus recalls the appearance of the Sun, which emerged from this flower on the first morning of creation. The flower is its natural integument, the Egyptian myth explains. By the principle of association of images, all the great "demiurgic" gods were identified with the Sun, Ra. They could therefore be depicted as "He who rose from the great lotus that came from the primordial ocean." This pendant thus symbolizes all the divine manifestations in the one form of the Sun, emerging slowly from the lotus.
BibliographyE. Delange, Catalogue de l'exposition Egito faraonico terra des deuses, Sao Paulo 2001, p. 78-79, notice n 21
Third Intermediate Period (1069-664 BC)
Gold, lapis lazuli, colored glass
H. 11.55 cm; W. 3.40 cm; D. 1.20 cm
Herishef as a Ram, Seated on a Lotus Flower
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