Kemetic Bloghop: Most Essential Item!
April 3, 2021

(This topic is inspired by the Kemetic Bloghop question:
What is one physical item within your spiritual practice that you can't imagine going without? How did you first acquire it, and how did it come to hold such importance for you?

My first thought was "I can't narrow it down to ONE ITEM!"
I managed FIVE, well NINE if we count four small items.

The first three pieces:
1: Ma'at statue is JBL statue, brass, and they don't make even make these in resin anymore, I am lucky to have Her.
2: Statue of Creator God Ptah, made by Lena Toritch, from my sketch based on a statue in the Turin museum
3: Small ankh I sculpted myself

4: Medallion I designed and had minted of Sekhmet-Hathor, and 5: Medallion I sculpted of Set
(The elegant Hathor with the rough-hewn Set!)
6, 7, 8 and 9: Two tourmaline crystals and their holders.

1: Ma'at statue

Tiny image from old camera taken at our old apartment in 2003

I got her back in 2003. She was the first Egyptian (Kemetic) statue I got, (if I don't count the brass 'Tut' chair I got as a souvenir from an exhibit I saw in 1999

It means something to me that the statue of Ma'at was the first. I knew very little in 2003. I was to undergo a very winding path before I ended up where I am today. Yet some concept of Ma'at (deity and concept meaning Truth/Justice/Balance) was there from the very first.

2: Statue of Ptah

My sketch design for this statue, loosely based on:

Seated Ptah statue at the Egyptian museum in Turin
Some details of the nearly life size original had to be simplified, hence, he's only holding the was scepter.

The sculptor Lena Toritch brilliantly interpreted this design in 2015
Many more photos of it via this link

3: Small Ankh

This is what the model looked like when I sent it to the foundry in April of 2017

Every time I look at it, I remember the tactical sensation of molding and smoothing the clay. A more cerebral creation doesn't have that tactical quality. It seems to be an excellent tool that the Netjeru can use to 'give life', by somehow storing energy.

4: Medallion of Sekhmet-Hathor

The idea for the Hathor/Sekhmet medal began during the Festival of the Beautiful Reunion in June of 2017. Inspired by Julia's gift to me of a coin featuring Anubis (Yinepu), and subsequent research into its designer and the medallions she crafted, I designed two rounds featuring Hathor and Sekhmet.

I first started with the drawing of Sekhmet. I used museum photos of two different statues of Sekhmet at the Met museum. One had the right angle I wanted, but it lacked a crown and uraeus, so I consulted a different statue's photo to get those. Once I got Sekhmet drawn, I started on the drawing of Hathor. I used photos of her statue at the Turin museum for guidance. That statue of Hathor has a damaged uraeus, so I was able to flip the uraeus from the first drawing and adapt it to this drawing.

The idea is that the two deities are "two sides of the same coin", gentle Hathor can become fierce Sekhmet, fierce Sekhmet can become appeased and soften into gentle Hathor. The designs are such that the eyes of each deity are exactly placed to be in the same spot on either side.

I found it fascinating to compare the medal design and its realization. I think the mint used a digital three-dimensional creation program, unlike the more traditional method of creating a very large clay model. (Heidi Wastweet shares the traditional method via this link.)

It's interesting to see what lines their artist kept, unaltered, except for the shaping.

The Hathor side seems mostly unchanged, except their artist greatly refined her mouth:

The Sekhmet side also was refined....

4: Medallion of Set

It began with an intuitive drawing

In this drawing I did February of 2018, Hathor is singing. Set says he wants the icon with the ears, because he "wants to hear" her singing. It's a charming idea, that She is singing!

Set wants to hear, and the icons will help him hear. So I decided to be daring.

I knew from watching some videos online, the process for a medal or medallion is an additive one. I started with coating the disk in clay:

I had the pattern printed out.

The model, before I sent it off to the foundry...

So that's FIVE items, not counting little crystals, capes and stands for the five items.

FIVE! The assignment is to narrow it down to one. "The house is afire, and you can only grab one and run out with your life and one item!"

Am I at a disadvantage compared to those who feel there is NO item they couldn't be without? Is the idea that physical items are a crutch a hold over from monotheisms which lean towards NO representations of deity? Also, is the importance of items somehow lessening our OWN importance in the process? After all, the greatest treasures lie in our hearts, where rust and mold do not grow, and things can't be stolen.

But does 'rust and mold' grow in another way? If our memories and mental images grow dim, then in a way, they _DO_ get corrupted. We need 'memory refreshers'. And thus, images of the Gods help to remind us of them, bringing thoughts of them into being.

The Gods use the imagery as gateways to speak to us. At least that's how it is for me. I'm a very visually oriented person. We are all different, with varying strengths, all useful.

If I were forced by cruel circumstances to be without images of the Gods, I would do my best to create some more. Even if I were down to crude drawings of the hieroglyphs, I would at least do that.

Hieroglyphs which say "Ptah"

The ancient Egyptians began with crude drawings. They've left the crude evidence on alabaster bowls, for which we're very grateful.

At one grave found in Tarkhan, Petrie describes, "In corner behind head, a dish, and in it the inscribed bowl, 24t, iii, I, with the figure of Ptah in his shrine and his name above. This is probably the earliest figure of a god known, excepting the Koptos colossi of Min." "It seems, therefore, certain that this figure of Ptah must be as early as about the reign of Den, 1st dynasty."
----W.M.F. Petrie, Tarkhan I and Memphis V, page 12, 22; Pl. III, 1; Pl XXXVII, 24t

Petrie's photo of the bowl and his line drawing of it.
The clumsy hieroglyphs are very recognizable.

I had a bit of difficulty finding the illustrations above. I remembered seeing them, and thought I'd saved them to computer. But no, apparently I hadn't. Another early depiction of Ptah did show up readily in my web searches, "The Earliest Known Three-Dimensional Representation of the God Ptah," by Earl L. Ertman. Journal of Near Eastern Studies (1972, Vol. 31, No. 2 )

This is a few more dynasties later, but even though only a partial fragment, we can see it is not crude. Ertman begins:

"A recent Egyptian addition to the Norbert Schimmel collection, New York, is a limestone head of a bearded man. It is masterfully carved and even in its incomplete state is obviously from a royal workshop. This sculptural fragment measures 17.5 cm. high by 19.5 deep and depicts a man with high cheekbones, slightly protruding mouth, and deeply set eyes (see figs. 1 and 2). The eyes emerge from recessed eye sockets and are topped by heavy upper eyelids. Only a slight portion of the back pillar remains and it is uninscribed." (page 83)

"The usual features associated with statues of the god Ptah compare favorably. This god was most frequently depicted as a bearded man wearing a mummiform shroud and a close-fitting skull cap." (page 84)

"In summary, the Schimmel fragment represents the god Ptah wearing the close fitting cap or skull cap; no other type of head covering appears possible. Stylistically the head probably dates from the mid Twelfth Dynasty when the Theban artists seemed to rely heavily on Old Kingdom examples with their aloof sternness. "If a Middle Kingdom date for the Schimmel head is accurate, it is the oldest surviving example (even in fragmentary form) of a three-dimensional representation of the god Ptah known to me. Indeed, sculpture-in-the-round of gods appears quite rare until the New Kingdom." (page 86)

Three quarter view of the limestone fragment

Profile view of the fragment

He definately has the 12th Dynasty Senwosret serious expression.

This is all well and good, but you dear readers are wondering, did I ever pick "just one" item. I did, and my statue of Ptah enthroned wins out! That's the one I'd grab. I might be able to manage another passable Hathor and Set, but there's no way I could manage the exquisite details that Lena Toritch did.

There's more reasons. Of all the many Kemetic deities, Ptah is the one that receives most of my prayers. I'm always seeking his wisdom or his peace. So a representation of Ptah wins out for that reason, too.

The winner!

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