This elegant, tiny amulet of beaten gold in the shape of a human-headed bird represents the Ba. It symbolizes the immortal soul, which is invoked to come back after death and “to attach itself to its corpse in the god’s domain,” according to the Book of the Dead, Spell number 89. It was charged with “assuming the form of a ‘living’ soul and not entering the place of execution,” from Spell number 85. The Ba was also charged with “opening the tomb for the soul and for the shadow, going forth by day, and controlling one’s feet,” according to Spell number 92.
Through these acts, the ancient Egyptians believed that the deceased would be resurrected in the afterlife. The human head of this bird resembles King Psusennes I himself. He is wearing the royal nemes headdress, the cobra, or uraeus, on his brow for protection against his enemies, and the divine false beard of dignity. The claws of the bird hold the shen sign, symbol of the universal power bestowed upon the wearer.
Third Intermediate Period, 21st Dynasty, ca. 1069-945 BC. From the Tomb of Psusennes I, NRT III, Tanis. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 85820