Blue-glazed Cowroid with Cobra goddess Wadjet
Measurement: 1.4 x 1.1 x.4 cm
Material/colour: glazed steatite with traces of blue glaze at ends.
Technique: carved stone pierced lengthwise; glazed.
Condition: chip from halfway down one long side. Small scratches and wear on bottom and around the edges consistent with use in daily life.
Date: Middle Kingdom to Second Intermediate Period
Provenance: Golden Chariot; Collection of Gustav Jecquier, reportedly from Sakkara.
Identification and Interpretation: Bottom: Though unclear in the photo above right, the symbol to the left of the central spiral is a uraeus I12, an erect cobras, poised to strike. This snake can represent any goddess, though in this case, she is Wadjet, the titulary goddess of Lower Egypt. As one of the ‘Two Ladies’ she protects the king, and can extend this protection to ordinary mortals; she can also be associated with the motherly goddess, Isis, or with Hathor, the Eye of Re.
To the right of the central spiral is a papyrus column M13, pronounced wadj. This both enforces the identification of the cobra with Wadjet, and adds the meaning “be hale, sturdy, fortunate, happy, vigorous.” Thus the amulet expresses a wish for health and fertility.
The spiral in the centre, a common motif during the Middle Kingdom and Second Intermediate Period, may be purely decorative
Workmanship: The glaze pooled in the glyphs, making details difficult to make out, but the original carving was clear.
Function and Meaning: Cowroids always suggest female sexuality and possibly ideas of rebirth into the Afterlife, though the addition of the goddess Wadjet and the associated ideas of health and happiness suggest this piece was made to be worn in life.