A large Egyptian Faience Winged Scarab, Ptolemaic Period, ca. 332 - 30 BCE
A large Egyptian Faience Winged Scarab, Ptolemaic Period, ca. 332 - 30 BCE

A large Egyptian Faience Winged Scarab, Ptolemaic Period, ca. 332 - 30 BCE


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This fine winged scarab amulet, made of bright blue glazed faience, comprises three elements individually molded and detailed.  Representing those of a falcon, the horizontal wings are rendered with long, primary, and secondary detailed feathering, the former highlighted in black pigment.  Made separately, they are pierced for attachment to either side of a central, naturistically carved scarab with incised lines to the lower area of the body.  The scarab is molded with a flat underside, and pierced by holes around the edge so that it could be stitched onto the mummy wrappings over the chest or incorporated into the bead net which enveloped contemporary mummies.  

The winged scarab was highly symbolic to the ancient Egyptians as it represented rebirth and was associated with the sun god, Ra. It was thought that the sun was pushed across the sky by a giant scarab, the god Khepri, an image that came from observations of the scarab hatching from dung and using its back legs to emerge. They seemed to hatch from the ball of dung in an act of self-creation, reaffirming their association with life and renewal1. These objects were a mystic symbol throughout ancient Egyptian history. The earliest scarab amulets appeared in the First Intermediate Period (c. 2124 BC) and were still in use in Greek and Roman times (c. 332 BC– 364 AD).

References: Andrews, Carol, Amulets of Ancient Egypt, chapter 4: Scarabs for the living and funerary scarabs, (University of Texas Press, 1994) pp 50-59.

 Chappaz, J. L., Chamay, J.,  Reflets du Divin, Muse d’Art et d’Histoire Geneve (Geneva, 2001) p. 97 no. 83 c.

Dimensions: Width: 4 1/4 inches (10.8 cm)

Condition:  Intact and in very good condition.  Custom mounted, the string binding the three pieces together was probably done in the early 20th century.  A very fine example.

Provenance:   Private English collection, sold at Bonhams Fine Antiquities Sale, London, Dec 1993, lot #357, thereafter private Virginia collection, acquired from JME private collection, New York in 2014.

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