Horus, the falcon-headed god, is a familiar ancient Egyptian god. He has become one of Egypt’s most commonly used symbols, seen on Egyptian aeroplanes and on hotels and restaurants throughout the land.
Horus is the son of Osiris and Isis, the divine child of the holy family triad. He is one of many gods associated with the falcon. His name means “he who is above” and “he who is distant”. The falcon had been worshipped from the earliest times as a cosmic deity whose body represents the heavens and whose eyes represent the sun and the moon. Horus is depicted as a falcon wearing a crown with a cobra or the Double Crown of Egypt. The hooded cobra (uraeus), which the gods and pharaohs wore on their foreheads, symbolizes light and royalty. It is there to protect the person from harm. via
And here is a stunning modern version of Goddess Isis.
What did the falcon represent in ancient Egypt?
The living king of Egypt was identified as an earthly Horus, and from the late Predynastic Period (c. 3100 BCE), the king bore a memorable royal “Horus name.” As the sacred animal of Horus, the falcon came to symbolize divine kingship, as the king was the earthly representation of Horus. Here.
Here, we read an excellent description of this magnificent divine work of god’s image. By Marie Grillot 🙏💖🙏
In bright and shimmering polychromy, the falcon, represented in full flight, spreads its wings. Curved upwards, they thus offer, in an elegant symmetry, perfect protection for the deceased.
The cloisonné technique – which here achieves a degree of excellence – enabled the 18th dynasty goldsmith who made this incredible pectoral to combine an enchantment of semi-precious stones, perfectly rendering the texture and composition of the plumage. Gold, lapis lazuli, turquoise, carnelian, or even light blue glass realistically reproduce the location of the primary and secondary flight feathers and the contour feathers and those of the tail. “It has partitions which are so tightly fitted with blue and red glass that it has been suggested that they represent the first example of true enamelling from Egypt”, analyzes Carol Andrews in “Ancient Egyptian Jewelry”.
The falcon’s head, seen in profile, is in solid gold. The hooked beak, the nape of the neck and the decorative motif on the cheek are underlined by inlays of dark glass paste. The round eye, embellished with a drip edge, is in obsidian.
“A large solar disk of carnelian, surrounded by a ring of gold, surmounts the head of the raptor, which therefore appears, by virtue of this attribute, as the symbol of the composite solar deity Re-Horakhty”. The legs of the falcon, entirely in gold, are terminated by talons that hold the shen rings, symbols of eternity, and the emblems of ankh life, guaranteeing the deceased sovereign, eternal life in the Beyond. The reverse of the jewel, entirely in gold, is decorated with delicate carvings that reproduce the place’s decor. The pendant was no doubt hung around the neck using a cord which was threaded through the four eyelets on the reverse,” specifies Silvia Einaudi in “The wonders of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo”.
Interior of the ebony and ivory chest – Carter 267 – in which was
the falcon holding the shen sign surmounted by the ankh sign (Carter 267-m(1) JE 61893 – GEM 31969)
Provenance: tomb of Tutankhamun (KV 62) was discovered in November 1922 by Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter
Griffith © Copyright Griffith Institute, 2000-2004
In his book “Tutankhamun, life, death and discovery of a pharaoh”, Nicholas Reeves observes that: “Tutankhamun was buried with many more jewels and amulets than Carter discovered on the mummy, and Judging by ancient inscriptions cataloguing the contents of the jewellery boxes, the tomb robbers seized many of the most valuable pieces. By Carter’s estimate, at least sixty per cent of the finest ‘unattached’ jewellery was gone. Those that remained – more than two hundred, including twenty precious metal pectoral elements and five counterweights – did however not insignificantly expand, both in quality and quantity, the range of antique jewellery known at the time”.
This rigid pectoral, with a maximum height of 11.70 cm and a maximum width of 12.60 cm, was found in the “treasure room”. This room was officially opened on February 17, 1923, almost three months after discovering the tomb by Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter.
Ebony and ivory chest – Carter 267 – in which was the falcon holding the shen sign surmounted by the ankh sign – gold, lapis lazuli, turquoise, carnelian, light blue glass Carter 267-m(1) JE 61893 – GEM 31969
The provenance of the tomb of Tutankhamun (KV 62)
discovered in November 1922 by Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter
Griffith © Copyright Griffith Institute, 2000-2004
It was placed in a delightful casket of ivory and ebony. On its domed lid was an inscription that Howard Carter had difficulty interpreting. He consulted, in August 1927, Alan J. Gardiner, who felt that it might be read as: “Jewels of gold for the procession made in the bed-chamber (i.e. the burial chamber) of Neb- Kheperou-Rê”… The casket did indeed contain numerous adornments of the king, for which Alfred Lucas considered that: “There was sufficient evidence to show that the jewels were originally tied in linen and sealed”.
Placed on the ground, in front and to the left of the gilded wooden naos protected by the four goddesses, it is easily identifiable in Harry Burton’s photos. Numbered “267” by Howard Carter, the various jewels inside received this number followed by a letter. Thus, this pectoral was referenced Carter 267-m(1).
It was then registered in the Cairo Museum Entry Journal, and its new Grand Egyptian Museum listing is GEM 31969.
It seems important to add two pieces of information. Carol Andrews indeed reports that it “shows signs of wear”, indicating that the young king wore it. Was this one of the symbols of his coronation? On the other hand, a very similar pectoral (256uuu-1) was found on the royal mummy, hanging on a heavy gold chain fitted with a heart-shaped counterweight. It is almost identical in construction, it undoubtedly comes from the same workshop, and the falcon is there, represented from the front and without the “ankh” signs…
The Griffith Institute – Tutankhamun: Anatomy of an Excavation – The Howard Carter Archives – Photographs by Harry Burton – © Copyright Griffith Institute, 2000-2004 http://www.griffith.ox.ac.uk/gri/carter/267m(1).html
Tutankhamun and his time, Petit Palais, Paris, February-July 17, 1967, Catalog by Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt, Ministry of State for Cultural Affairs
Life and Death of a Pharaoh, Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt, Hachette, 1963
Tutankhamun, life, death and discovery of a pharaoh, Nicholas Reeves, Editions Errance
Tutankhamun: his tomb and its treasures, IES Edwards, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1977
Tutankhamun, Jean Capart, 1923 http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k5611389t/f60.texte
Ancient Egyptian Jewelry, Carol Andrews, Harry N. Abrams, INC., Publishers, 1991
Treasures of Egypt – The Wonders of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Francesco Tiradritti
Discover Tutankhamun, Zahi Hawass, Editions du Rocher, 2015
Tutankhamun, Marc Gabolde, Pygmalion, 2015
Catalog of the exhibition “Tutankhamun, treasures of the golden pharaoh”, Zahi Hawass, IMG Melcher Media, 2018
(An especial description here.)