Egyptian Blue Winged Scarab Amulet

Molded winged scarab amulet of blue glassy faience, with separate wings, of a type that was mass-produced in the first millennium BC. Flat and schematically modeled, it was intended to be incorporated into a beadwork mummy shroud. Mounted together with fabric backing.

This scarab is rather coarsely modeled, although every detail of the body is shown. It is set into a wide, oval base. In front of the head is a hole for suspension. The holes on the sides were meant for attaching the wings. The tips of the wings are slightly bent outwards.

Egyptian Blue Winged Scarab Amulet. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 72.3019a-c
Egyptian Blue Winged Scarab Amulet. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 72.3019a-c

The feathers have been differentiated into flight feathers, lesser and greater coverts. Winged scarabs were placed on the mummy’s chest. They were sewn onto or worked into the bead net that covered it.

In Ancient Egypt, the scarab was a symbol of resurrection, therefore it was strictly connected to rebirth in the Afterlife. Similar amulets were placed on mummies, positioned on the heart, in order to protect this organ.

In fact, ancient Egyptians believed that the heart of a person should have weighted like the feather of an ostrich (symbol of the goddess of justice Maat), to ensure that the deceased reached the Afterlife safe and sound.

Mummy scarabs are amulets only used in the mortuary cult. What makes them remarkable is that not only the rear view is detailed, but the underside with the legs was also worked. These scarabs were placed in the mummy wrappings.

Third Intermediate Period, 25th Dynasty, ca. 740-660 BC. Dimensions: (a) Length x width: 7.3 x 5.0 cm; (b) and (c) Length x width: 6.3 x 4.1 cm (each). Made of Egyptian Faience. Now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 72.3019a-c