Design Amulet, a Double-Falconhead Shank Pierced Transversally on the Back, Device showing Two Hares Head-to-tail
First Intermediate Period
ca. 2100–2080 B.C.
diam. 2.3 cm (7/8 in)
Purchase, Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1926
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. Doubled falcons in general are emblems of royal power and royal protective power. Seen here in conjunction with hares, who can symbolize overcoming of death, the object becomes a talisman for passage to the afterlife.
Timmins Collection by 1907. Acquired by for his collection by Lord Carnarvon before 1923. Carnarvon Collection purchased by the Museum from Lady Carnarvon, 1926.