Frog Amulet

This faience frog amulet was probably placed next to a woman to safeguard her during childbirth. The combination of deep blue and turquoise typifies objects from the time of Amenhotep III. In antiquity, as today, the croaking of frogs was often the first sound heard each morning in Egypt.

These amphibians were thus associated with the sun’s daily rebirth, and their images were believed to have protective powers.

Faience Frog Amulet. Brooklyn Museum. 58.28.8
Faience Frog Amulet. Brooklyn Museum. 58.28.8

Blue faience amulet of a seated frog on a roughly square base. Front legs in the round. Eyes in high relief covered with Manganese. Three stripes of turquoise blue glaze run down the back. Square opening on underside of base. Condition: Intact. Firing cracks around neck.

Faience is a quartz-based paste that can be molded and fired at high temperatures to harden much like ceramics. The material is naturally sparkling white so it takes color very well. This glass-like glaze is colored with copper oxides.

The association between this amphibian and the life that continually renews may have been induced by the fact that frogs were numerous and usually appeared after the flooding of the Nile: multitudes of frogs filled the fields and seemed to generate themselves directly from the slime, multiplying without end. The amphibian was also the sacred animal of the goddess Heqet, protector of births.

Egyptian faience amulet of frog, monkey and hedgehog
Egyptian faience amulet of frog, monkey and hedgehog
Photo: Jeon Han

The frog, because of its numerous offspring, was a symbol of fertility. In fact, the hieroglyphic sign for 100,000 was a tadpole. Frog amulets were very popular both in semiprecious stone and in faience, and were worn by women hoping for an easy delivery. Both sexes wore the frog in expectation of a successful rebirth in the afterlife.

In ancient Egypt, animals were symbolic of human virtues. The frog symbolizes fertility and safe childbirth, while the monkey represents status and wealth. A hedgehog stands for resurrection.

New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, reign of Amenhotep III, ca. 1391-1353 BC. Faience, 2 1/16 x 1 15/16 x 1 7/8 in. (5.3 x 5 x 4.7 cm). Now in the Brooklyn Museum. 58.28.8