Magic wand

Middle Kingdom

Not on view

Wands such as this were a common feature in burials of the late Middle Kingdom. This one shows signs of wear on one tip, suggesting that it was used over a period of time before being placed in the tomb. The wand is decorated on one side with the figures of protective deities most of whom carry knives to ward off evil spirits.

Some wands, like this one, and 30.8.218 are inscribed on the front with the words "protection by day" and "protection by night." Another wand in the collection (08.200.19) has a longer inscription on the back. The texts indicate that the wands were used to defend infants against malign forces, perhaps by scratching a circle in the earth around the area where they slept. Having provided defense against illness during life, after death the wands were placed in the tomb to ensure the continued protection of the deceased's spirit in its eternal afterlife.

Magic wand, Ivory: Hippopotamus

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