Hu
Back to results

Apotropaion

Date 1773–1650 B.C.
Object type religious or cult object
Medium, technique hippopotamus tusk
Dimensions

32 x 4 cm

Inventory number 2005.1-E
Collection Egyptian Art
On view This artwork can be displayed at the permanent exhibition

The object used as apotropaion is frequently referred to by Egyptologists as “magic knife” or “magic wand”. Its unmistakable form is due to the natural curve of the hippopotamus tusk, the usual material it was made of. The convex side of the Budapest apotropaion is fully decorated with carved representations, while the flat bottom is left blank. The peculiarity of the object is that the ancient restoration has entirely survived; both fragments were perforated in two spots and the four holes were attached and fastened to each other by a cross-shaped copper strap. On the decorated side of the magic wand, the procession of different animals – holding knives – is depicted. These magic tools served as weapons providing magic powers to their owner against demons in critical moments, e.g., during childbirth or at rebirth after death. The function of the knives – placed before the animals – is to destroy demonic enemies, while the snakes in their mouths display their control over the hostile forces represented by the reptiles.

Recommended exhibitions