An extremely fine Egyptian hematite amulet modelled in the shape of the god Shu, portrayed kneeling on a rectangular base with his arms raised to hold a sun disk over his head. The deity is shown wearing a kilt, long beard and tripartite wig. Anatomical and facial features are rendered in an extremely naturalistic manner, with much attention given towards the details. The reverse appears finely carved and featuring a loop for attachment. Similar amulets usually present the deity with the palms facing frontally, rather than holding the sun disk. This peculiarity makes the piece a rare find.
Date: Circa 664-332 BC Period: Late Period Provenance: From an early 20th Century collection. Condition: Fine, the amulet has been repaired to the left arm.
In Egyptian culture and mythology, Shu was believed to be divinity of light and air, personifying the wind and the earth’s atmosphere. He marked the separation between day and night, and between the living and the dead. The deity was also associated with the principle of life. Shu was particularly important to sailors, as they called upon his power to aid the ships’ sails. It is believed that his children, Nut (goddess of the sky) and Geb (god of the Earth), were infatuated with each other. Shu intervened, and held Nut above his head to separate the pair: in doing so, he created the atmosphere and the conditions required for life. In amulets, such as this fine example, Shu kneels with his arms raised to perform this exploit, holding a sun disk over his head, in allusion to the sky.