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Was scepter meaning


The Was-Scepter of Ancient Egyptian was a long straight staff with two prongs at the bottom and a canine head. It symbolized power or dominion and was associated with the gods and the pharaoh—the earliest examples date to the First Dynasty. For example, an ivory comb from the reign of Djet depicts two was scepters supporting the outstretched wings of a falcon (representing the heavens). 
 
In a funerary context, the was-scepter was also an amulet that ensured the well-being of the deceased and so often appeared as a decoration on funerary equipment. The wand also formed the hieroglyph for the fourth nome of Upper Egypt, whose capital was Thebes (known as Waset by the ancient Egyptians). The was-scepter is one of the highly recognizable symbols, or emblems, found in ancient Egypt's two-dimensional representations and three-dimensional objects. 
 
 Was Scepter
 Was Scepter
 
 

Was Scepter in ancient Egypt

 
It is a well-known object to most ancient Egyptian enthusiasts, though actually, this name for it is a bit deceptive. Technically, it is certainly not always in the form of a wand, but it can also take the form of a stave or staff and can also be displayed as a type of border and in other manners. Geoffrey Graham, in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, refers to it as a w3s-staff (w3s being a type of notation used by Egyptologists to denote the spelling of an Egyptian term where there is no modern English equivalent for some of the letters of the word) and tells us that it is "often erroneously called a 'scepter.' However, that seems a bit misleading, because it could indeed be displayed in the same manner as other scepters, though it took different forms as well. However, popularly, it is almost always referred to as a was-scepter (or wand), which we will use. 
 
Physically, this argument relates only to the length of the shaft, though symbolically, it can have some ramifications and how it is used. Physically, a was-scepter consists of a staff with, what many scholars believe to be, the head of a Seth or a desert animal at the head and an open fork at the base. Some have speculated that the head could, at least at times, be in the form of a gazelle, a bird, a snake, or some fantastic animal. Others have argued that the fork at the base could symbolize legs. Used to support that argument is that was-scepters are sometimes depicted in a personification, having arms added to the staff. Still, there are other such personifications of objects that would tend to dispute this theory. We believe that the was-scepter may have been derived from walking sticks, fighting canes, or even tent poles. 
 
Its forked base may have initially, and later even symbolically, been intended for controlling serpents, but this is by no means clear. There are many arguments and theories about the origins of this ancient device. The was-scepter was a visual representation of the concept of "power" or "dominion." Hence, it could symbolize power and authority. It is also associated with wealth and happiness. In later Egyptian reliefs, the was-scepter sometimes served as a vertical border on scenes, supporting elongated "sky" hieroglyphs and standing on long "earth" hieroglyphs, which served as the horizontal parts of the frame. They seem, therefore, to represent the pillars of the sky, and hence dominion over the entire universe. 
 
However, the was-scepter was also the hieroglyph for "Thebes." Naturally, its earliest depictions in Egyptian art found it in the hands of the gods and goddesses. Several different gods through the pharaonic period are depicted with was-scepters. Later, it was co-opted for representations of kings, and still later, could even be represented in the mortuary drawings of private persons. Was-staff could be represented both two-dimensionally and in the round in a variety of ways. As mentioned, they could be depicted as a sort of border, but more typically, they were either shown in the hands of a god or king or as a staff. Variations on the was-scepter were found in the hands of Osiris and Ptah. It was combined with the ankh and djed pillar in their hands, but there are also objects in the round made in this manner. 
 
It could also sometimes be depicted as a hieroglyph, together with the ankh, being poured over the head of a ruler, therefore giving him both life and dominion. It should probably be distinguished from a dam-staff (or jam-staff), identical to the was-staff except for an undulated shaft. Some sources have referred to these two different objects as being equal. Still, the djam staff's hieroglyphic meaning is "electrum," a precious natural alloy of gold and silver, and it is more closely associated with Geb, god of the earth. Though seen throughout ancient Egyptian art, unfortunately, while the overall meaning of the was-scepter seems relatively straightforward, textual information and other evidence about its origins, and probably there are nuances related to its various forms that we know practically nothing about.


Was Scepter pictures

 

Was Scepter

Was Scepter


Was Scepter


Was Scepter







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