Aegis with the Head of Sakhmet

Egyptianca. 900-750 BC (Third Intermediate)

The Walters Art Museum

The Walters Art Museum
Baltimore, United States

The collars worn by both Egyptian men and women were composed of two main parts: in front, a broad collar (called "wesekh") decorated with floral elements, and a v-shaped counterpoise (called "menat") falling behind the neck to balance the weight of the collar. Such a combination was not only used as decoration but also as a ritual instrument by holding the "menat" in the hand and rattling the beads of the collar. The three-dimensional depiction of "wesekh" and "menat" combined with a divine head became an important symbol. The head of a feline goddess atop this model collar indicates that it is intended as a personification of her powers, conveying in its decoration the ability of the lioness both to protect and to nourish the king. Her dual nature is evoked by her stern and watchful face on the front side, and by her representation as a mother suckling a young prince on the reverse. This precious object may have been produced for someone of the royal family.


  • Title: Aegis with the Head of Sakhmet
  • Date Created: ca. 900-750 BC (Third Intermediate)
  • Type: ceremonial objects; collars (neckwear)
  • Rights: Acquired by Henry Walters, 1924, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/
  • External Link: The Walters Art Museum
  • Medium: gold
  • Provenance: Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1924, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
  • Place of Origin: Egypt
  • ExhibitionHistory: Jewelry - Ancient to Modern. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1979-1980; Mistress of House Mistress of Heaven: Women in Ancient Egypt. Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn. 1996-1997; Highlights from the Collection. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1998-2001; Chefs-d'oeuvre des derniers pharaons. Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris. 2012
  • Artist: Egyptian

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