Saturday, September 10, 2011

two fingers

The Ladder, #86, The Two-Fingers, #82. William Thomas and Kate Pavitt, The Book Of Talismans, Amulets And Zodiacal Gems, 1922.

[The two-fingers amulet] was intended to take the place of the two fingers of the god who helped Osiris to ascend the Ladder of Ra. [...] The Ladder amulet, provided the deceased with the means of ascending from earth to the floor of heaven, i.e. the sky. An ancient legend says that Osiris wished to ascend to heaven, but had not sufficient strength to do so. Ra seeing his difficulty provided the ladder, and he and Horus standing, one of each side of Osiris, helped him to ascend. [...] The legend is referred to in the text in the Pyramid of Pepi I, lines 192 f, 472 and 473, and in it we are told that it was the "two fingers of the Lord of the Ladder" which helped Osiris to ascend to the sky. The Egyptians presumed that the deceased might not be able to obtain the assistance of the "two finger," and they made the amulet [...] to take their place.
--E.A. Wallis Budge, Amulets and Superstitions, 1930.

British Museum, Obsidian amulet in the shape of two fingers. From Egypt, Late Period, after 600 BC.

The 'two-finger' amulet shows the index and middle fingers, with the nails and joints clearly indicated. They were placed on the mummy near the incision by which the internal organs were removed before embalming. This may suggest that the amulet was intended to reaffirm the embalming process, the fingers representing those of Anubis, the god of embalming. However, the amulet could also have been intended to 'hold' the incision sealed, to prevent malign forces from entering the body, like the plaques sometimes placed over the wound.

Brooklyn Museum, Amulet Representing Two Fingers. Egypt, said to be from the area of Memphis. Ptolemaic Period, 332–30 B.C.E.