The Origins of the Jmy-wt Fetish

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  • The Origins of the Jmy-wt FetishAuthor(s): Thomas J. LoganSource: Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt, Vol. 27 (1990), pp. 61-69Published by: American Research Center in EgyptStable URL: .Accessed: 14/06/2014 23:31

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  • The Origins of the Jmy-wt Fetish*

    Thomas J. Logan

    In 1976 an exhibition of 55 objects from the Tomb of Tutankhamun began a tour of this country. Hundreds of thousands of people saw among them a strange gilt pole-shaped object (Catalogue no. 15) labeled the "Emblem of Anubis." Although we know that this emblem, or fetish, was connected with Anubis and burial, much of its function, indeed even its prototypical form and composition, remains enigmatic. In 1975 Ursula Kohler tried to remedy this situation and listed all the representations of the jmy-wt fetish known.1 In a second section of the same study, the basic meanings and contexts were discussed. While she listed all the attestations, her basic point of departure began with the reign of King Djoser when, according to her, the representation of the fetish became standardized (the Kanon-Form).2 Only one paragraph is de- voted to its meaning during the Thinite Period,3 and that lists its functions as an adjunct to the ms. -ceremony, coronation, Sed- jubilee, and roy- al burial.4

    This article will review its depictions in the Thinite Period, discuss their contexts, and deter- mine their contemporary functions. In addition, an unpublished Predynastic representation will be discussed. This earliest attestation suggests

    what the fetish was originally made from. Occur- rences will be listed with the most recent and proceed to the older, and presumably, more obscure forms. There are no known occurrences from Dynasty 2; but since this period is so poorly documented, it would be premature to draw any conclusions from negative evidence.

    However, in Dynasty 1 there are many occur- rences, though the majority of them are im- pressions (sealings) or duplicates (seals or labels) of only a few prototypes. There is an unusual grouping of the occurrences of the fetish. It appears only during four reigns: Hor-Aha, Djer (Shty), Djet, and Den; and for each reign it occurs only as a seal (Djer and Den) or a label (Hor-Aha and Djet) but never as both during the same reign. This again could be the result of negative evidence.

    I. Cylinder Seals

    a. Reign of Den: 2 sealings

    There are two attestations of sealings, both from Abydos. The first contains the fetish next to the serekh, which contains the king's name.5 In addition, the standard of Wepwawet is flanked by a w jd-sign6 and the king's serekh. There are also possibly the names of two princes.7 The second

    * I wish to thank Dr. Bruce Williams of the Oriental Institute, Chicago, for his valuable and much appreciated assistance with this article.

    1 Ursula Kohler, Das Imiut (Gottinger Orientforschungen 4; Wiesbaden, 1975). All predynastic dates are based on Werner Kaiser's "Zur inneren Chronologie der Naqadakul- tur," Archaeologia Geographica 6 (1956/57), 69-77.

    2 Kohler, Das Imiut, 6. 3 Ibid., 366-67. 4 On coronation see P. Munro, "Bermerkungen zu einem

    Sedfest-Relief in der Stadtmauer von Kairo," ZAS 86 (1961) 64; on Sed- jubilee see ibid., 64; and on royal burial see H. Altenmiiller, "Die Bedeutung der 'Gotteshalle des Anubis' im Begrabnisritual," JEOL 22 (1971-72), 316 n. 145.

    5 From the tomb of Den or Meritneit: Petrie, The Royal Tombs of the Earliest Dynasties (London, 1901), 2:plate XVII, #135; for a discussion of the other elements see A. J. Spencer, Early Dynastic Objects: Catalogue of Egyptian Antiquities in the British Museum, vol. 5 (Oxford, 1980), no. 373; and P. Kaplony, IAF (Agyptologische Abhandlungen 8; Wiesbaden, 1963), 2:1116, fig. 186.

    6 Perhaps an early emblem for the goddess WMt who appears in human form holding the emblem on sealings of Khasakhemy and Ny-netjer (Kaplony, IAF 3:plate 82, #309 and plate 125, #748).

    7 See the works of Spencer and Kaplony cited in nn. 5 and 6 above.


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  • 62 JARCE XXVII (1990)

    sealing contains the emblem stationed next to the name(?) Khasty and the king's serekh.8

    b. Reign of Djer: 2 seals and 4 sealings

    1. and 2. Brussels and Bristol seals.9 The em- blem and Wepwawet standards flank the king's serekh. In addition there are the names of two princes.

    3. B.M. sealing is a sealing of one of the seals above.10

    4. R.T. 2: plate Via, #18, sealing. There is only a photograph and no drawing, but clearly the fetish flanks the king's serekh on the left, and traces on the right could be the pole of the Wepwawet standard. If so, it is the same as numbers 1-3.

    5. Berlin 15 666. n The same as 2. 6. Amelineau.12 The photo is unclear but

    appears to be the same as numbers 1-5.

    Numbers 1-6 are all probably the same repre- sentation of a single prototype.

    The examples of seals and sealings that survive all have one thing in common, the fetish occurs only directly next to the serekh of the king as if flanking it in a protective manner. There is no exception. The close relationship of the king and the fetish or Anubis may be confirmed by the (Palermo Stone) Annals, Cairo 1, line 3, box 3, which is the third year of a king that reads hc ny-swt, ms.t Jnpw.13 The Palermo Stone example links the "fashioning" of the jmy-wt fetish specifically with the "appearance" of the king. In the Archaic Period it is obvious that the king can hc more than once during his reign. The Cairo

    portion of the Annals records the event in year 3; the Palermo stone has it happening in year X + 3 and year X + 2.14 Since it can apparently happen any time during the king's reign, the event is not an "accession"15 in the sense of coronation but more likely a public appearance. The Den and Djer seals and sealings, then, commemorate the king's appearance in public and probably serve a protective function.

    II. Attestations on Labels

    a. Reign of Djet: ivory label, fragmentary , from his tomb16

    The Djet ivory label is very fragmentary - only two pieces survive. The spatial relationship sug- gested between the two pieces by Petrie is here maintained. It would read "Serekh of WM, ms.t. [sSty-] bity}17 [. . .]18 jmy-wt; the god's fortress [x-] ntrw."19

    During the Thinite Period the "fashioning" (ms.t) of statues and standards is well attested.20 Besides the strictly contemporary documents, there is an attestation of the fashioning of the jmy-wt emblem on the (Palermo Stone) Annals. This occurs on Cairo 4, which is clearly dated to the reign of Den.21 The year reads ms.t imy-wt, and there is a building called snty. As with the labels of Hor- Aha to be discussed next, we have a case of a shrine (snwt) connected with the fash- ioning of the jmy-wt. In another example, Anu- bis, whom the jmy-wt fetish represents, is ms. t in the first entry of line two of the Palermo Stone.22

    8 R.T. 2:plate XIX, #151, tomb of Den? 9 Cf. IAF 2:1115, fig. 175a and 175b for bibliography. Both

    come from the tomb of Djer. 10 Spencer, Early Dynastic Objects, #368, tomb of Djer. 11 A. Scharff, Die Altertiimer der Vor- und Friihzeit Agyp-

    tens (Berlin, 1929), 2:182, #474. 12 Les nouvelles fouilles d'Abydos (Paris, 1896-1898), plate

    XXVII, 12. 13 For the identification of the jmy-wt fetish and Anubis see

    Kohler, "Imiut," LA 3:149-50. The Palermo Stone was published by H. Schafer, Ein Bruchstilck altdgyptischen Annalen (Berlin, 1902); the Cairo 1 fragment by H. Gauthier, "Quatre nouveaux fragments de la Pierre de Palerme," Le Musee Egyptien (Cairo, 1915), vol. 3.

    14 Schafer, Ein Bruchstuck, 19 and 26. 15 R. Faulkner, Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian

    (Oxford, 1964), 185. 16 Petrie, Abydos I. 1902 (London, 1902), l:plate XI,2: IAF

    2:989 n. 1565. 17 See Schafer, Ein Bruchstuck, 16, year 3; and A. Black-

    man, "Osiris or the Sun-God?" JEA 11 (1925), 208. 18 Perhaps schc, see n. 28 below. 19 P. Kaplony, "Gottespalast und Gotterfestungen in der

    agyptischen Friihzeit," ZAS 88 (1962), 5-16. 20 S. Schott, Hieroglyphen (Wiesbaden, 1951) 28-29 and

    below, n. 24; and A. Gardiner, "Regnal Years and Civil Calendar in Pharaonic Egypt," JEA 31 (1935) 13 n. 2.

    21 J.-L. de Cenival, "Un Nouveau Fragment de la Pierre de Palerme," Bull. So. Fr. Eg. 44 (1965) 13ff.

    22 Schafer, Ein Bruchstuck, 15.

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