An Egyptian Obsidian Pesesh-kef Amulet,
Late Period, ca. 664 - 332 BCE
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The Opening of the Mouth ceremony carried out on the mummy on the day of burial to restore to the deceased all his earthly faculties and reincorporate the spirit within the body entailed the use of various prescribed ritual implements, among them the distinctly shaped pesesh-kef. This example is characterized by a bifurcated shaft in which the two ends are upward-curving into points; perhaps the original was a fish-tailed flint of predynastic type, thus stressing the antiquity of the ritual.
The exact purpose of the pesesh-kef is unknown and the subject of considerable speculation so it is difficult to determine the significance of the amulet. Where details of provenance are known, they seem to have come from burials of women, one a princess of Dynasty 11 and often made of valuable material. The amulets were originally worn on the mummy; one example was found on a cord around a woman's neck. This amulet retains traces of a thickish cord in the suspension loop so it can be speculated it too originally formed part of a choker.
Andrews, Carol. Amulets of Ancient Egypt Austin: University of Texas Press, (1994) pp. 83-84.
Roth, Ann Macy. "The PsS-kf and the 'Opening of the Mouth' Ceremony: A Ritual of Birth and Rebirth." Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 78 (1992), pp. 113-147.
Roth, Ann Macy. "Fingers, Stars, and the 'Opening of the Mouth': the Nature and Function of the nTrwj-blades." Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 79 (1993), pp. 57-79.
Dimensions: Length: 2.3 cm (0.90 inches)
Condition: Intact and in very good condition.
Provenance: Private collection of Geoffrey Metz, Egyptologist and curator of Egyptian antiquities at the Gustavianum Museum, Uppsala University, Sweden. Metz catalogue number M929.