Design Amulet with Pierced Shank, Device of Squatting Child Facing Right
First Intermediate Period
ca. 2100–2080 B.C.
L. 1.6 cm (5/8 in.)
Rogers Fund, 1907
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 103
Design amulets from the late Old Kingdom and First Intermediate Period, also called button seals or figure seals according to their form, were at least in some instances used as seals. They seem overwhelmingly, however, to show devices (base decoration) and combinations of figural backs and base decoration that are clearly amuletic in nature; moreover, at least at Qau, they came mainly from the burials of women and children. Examples are preserved from tombs where they were buried with the dead, sometimes incorporated in strings of beads and amulets.
A recent study has cast considerable light on the motifs and their amuletic significance. These faience button form amulets with images of children are thought to represent the wish for children and their protection.