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The Wedjat - later called The Eye of Horus
An Eye of Horus or Wedjat pendant

The Eye of Horus (Wedjat)[1] (previously Wadjet and the Eye of the Moon; and afterwards as The Eye of Ra[2] or "Udjat")[3] is an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection and royal power from deities, in this case from Horus or Ra. The symbol is seen on images of Horus' mother, Isis, and on other deities associated with her.

In the Egyptian language, the word for this symbol was "Wedjat".[4][5] It was the eye of one of the earliest of Egyptian deities, Wadjet, who later became associated with Bast, Mut, and Hathor as well. Wedjat was a solar deity and this symbol began as her eye, an all seeing eye. In early artwork, Hathor is also depicted with this eye.[6] Funerary amulets were often made in the shape of the Eye of Horus. The Wedjat or Eye of Horus is "the central element" of seven "gold, faience, carnelian and lapis lazuli" bracelets found on the mummy of Shoshenq II.[7] The Wedjat "was intended to protect the king [here] in the afterlife"[8] and to ward off evil. Ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern sailors would frequently paint the symbol on the bow of their vessel to ensure safe sea travel.[9]

Contents

Horus

Horus was the ancient Egyptian sky god who was also associated with the sun god Ra, pictured in the form of a falcon. The right eye represents a Peregrine Falcon's eye and the markings around it, that includes the "teardrop" marking sometimes found below the eye. As the wedjet (also udjat or utchat), it also represented the sun, and was associated with Horus' mother, Isis, and with Wadjet, a cobra goddess, as well as the sun deity Ra. The mirror image, or left eye, sometimes represented the moon and the god Djehuti (Thoth).[10]

wedjet - Eye of Horus
in hieroglyphs
D10

Eye of Horus, a hieroglyph and symbol

Seven different hieroglyphs are used to represent the "eye"-(human body parts). One is the common usage of the verb: to do, make, or perform. The other frequently used hieroglyph is the Wedjat, a sacred eye symbol that gives a mummy the ability "to see again", called the Eye of Horus after his cult rose to prominence as the son of Osiris.

It is also often referred to as the symbol of Visual communication.

In arithmetic

Hathor, mother of Horus and later wife of Ra, showing her sacred eye inherited from Wedjat - depicted in the Papyrus of Ani

In the Ancient Egyptian measurement system, the Eye Of Horus defined Old Kingdom number one (1) = 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16 + 1/32 + 1/64, by throwing away 1/64 for any rational number. Eye of Horus numbers created six-term rounded-off numbers. The Old Kingdom definition had dropped a seventh term, a remainder 1/64, that was needed to report exact series. During the Middle Kingdom that included the eleventh through fourteenth dynasties, exact series definitions and applications were often written by 6-terms, or less. The Egyptian fraction notation scaled to volume unit remainders to 1/320 hekat. For example, the Egyptian Mathematical Leather Roll, the RMP 2/n table and the Akhmim Wooden Tablet wrote binary quotients and scaled remainders. The metaphorical side of this information linked Old Kingdom fractions 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, and 1/64, to separate parts of the eye, as noted by:

  • 1/2 was represented by smell, symbolized by the right side of the eye in a form of the nose. The pyramid text says: "Behold [the fire] rises in Abydos and it comes; I cause it to come, the Eye of Horus. It is set in order upon thy brow, O Osiris Khenti-Amenti; it is set in the shrine and rises on thy brow."
  • 1/4 was represented by sight or the sensation of light, symbolized by the pupil. The pyramid text says: "Perfect is the Eye of Horus. I have delivered the Eye of Horus, the shining one, the ornament of the Eye of Ra, the Father of the Gods."
  • 1/8 was represented by thought, symbolized by the eyebrow. The pyramid text says: "...the Eye of Horus hath made me holy...I will hide myself among you, O ye stars which are imperishable. My brow is the brow of Ra."
  • 1/16 was represented by hearing, symbolized by the left side of the eye in the form of an arrow pointing towards the ear. The pyramid text says: "That which has been shut fast/dead hath been opened by the command of the Eye of Horus, which hath delivered me. Established are the beauties on the forehead of Ra."
  • 1/32 was represented by taste, by the sprouting of wheat or grain from the planted stalk, symbolized by a curved tail. The pyramid text says: "Come, the Eye of Horus hath delivered for me my soul, my ornaments are established on the brow of Ra. Light is on the faces of those who are in the members of Osiris."
  • 1/64 was represented by touch, symbolized by a leg touching the ground, or what can also be thought of as a strong plant growing into the surface of the earth. The pyramid text says: "I shall see the Gods and the Eye of Horus burning with fire before my eyes!"
Earthenware Wedjat amulet on display at the Louvre, c. 500–300 BC

In the Middle Kingdom the 1/64 symbol denoted 'rest' and 'healing' as connected to the hekat, with the word dja being attached.

The 'Eye of Horus' fractions were further discussed in the Egyptian Mathematical Leather Roll following elementary definitions that built the Egyptian fraction system. Weights and measure subunits of a hekat were also connected to Eye of Horus numbers in the quotient, and as an exact remainder, the remainder including an Egyptian fraction and a ro unit, correcting the Eye of Horus 1/64 roundoff error. The ro unit, 1/320 of a hekat, is cited in the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus and applied in the medical texts, i.e. Ebers Papyrus in two ways. The first replaced the hekat by a unity, 64/64 (in RMP 47, 82 and 83), and the second by 320 ro (in RMP 35–38). Exact divisions of 64/64 by 3, 7, 10, 11 and 13, written as 1/3, 1/17, 1/10, 1/11 and 1/13 multipliers, are also found in the Akhmim Wooden Tablet.

See also

  • Evil eye - a widely distributed element of folklore
  • Eye of Providence: a symbol showing an eye surrounded by rays of light or a glory, and usually enclosed by a triangle

References

  1. ^ Chapter 14, Egyptian Art in David P. Silverman, Ancient Egypt, Duncan Baird Publishers, 1997. p.228
  2. ^ Wörterbuch der ägyptischen Sprache 1, 268.13
  3. ^ Alessandro Bongioanni & Maria Croce (ed.), The Treasures of Ancient Egypt: From the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Universe Publishing, a division of Ruzzoli Publications Inc., 2003. p.622. According to the editors, 'Udjat' was the term for amulets which used the Eye of Horus design.
  4. ^ Pommerening, Tanja, Die altägyptischen Hohlmaße (Studien zur Altägyptischen Kultur, Beiheft 10), Hamburg, Helmut Buske Verlag, 2005
  5. ^ M. Stokstad, "Art History"
  6. ^ Lady of the West at hethert.org
  7. ^ Silverman, op. cit., p.228
  8. ^ Silverman, op. cit., p.228
  9. ^ Charles Freeman, The Legacy of Ancient Egypt, Facts on File, Inc. 1997. p.91
  10. ^ Eye of Horus, Eye of Ra (Udjat, Wedjet)
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Simple English


The Eye of Horus was an important symbol in ancient Egypt. It was the symbol of protection and Royal Power from Ra or Horus.

Horus was an ancient Egyptian sky god in the form of a falcon. The right eye represents a peregrine falcon's eye and the markings around it. This includes the "teardrop" marking sometimes found below the eye. As the wadjet (also udjat or utchat), it also represented the sun, and was associated with the Sun God Ra (Re). The "mirror image", or left eye, represented the moon and the God Tehuti (Thoth). [1]

In arithmetic

Eye of Horus
in hieroglyphs
D10

In the ancient Egyptian measurement system, the Eye Of Horus defined an Old Kingdom rounded off number one(1) = 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16 + 1/32 + 1/64, by throwing away 1/64.

  • 1/2 was represented by smell. This was symbolized by the right side of the eye in a form of the nose.
  • 1/4 was represented by sight or the sensation of light. This was symbolized by the pupil.
  • 1/8 was represented by thought. This was symbolized by the eyebrow.
  • 1/16 was represented by hearing. This was symbolized by the left side of the eye in the form of an arrow pointing towards the ear.
  • 1/32 was represented by taste, by the sprouting of wheat or grain from the planted stalk. This was symbolized by a curved tail.
  • 1/64 was represented by touch. This was symbolized by a leg touching the ground, or what can also be thought of as a strong plant growing into the surface of the earth.

References

  1. http://altreligion.about.com/library/glossary/symbols/bldefseyeofhorus.htm

Other websites


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