CIPPI OF HORUS
by
E. A. Wallis Budge

[Extracted from his The Mummy, London, 1893, pp. 358-61.
The illustrations, not in Budge, have been added from a brochure.]


The Metternich Stela (detail)
[Front, registers vi-viii. Register vii: Horus the Child trampling on crocodiles and holding two
serpents, two scorpions, an oryx, and a lionall regarded as malign animals. On the left and
right of Horus are Ra Horakhty, on a serpent, and two divine symbols. Over his head is the
face which usually represents Bes, the guardian of newborn infants; the two gods may perhaps
also illustrate the prayer to the "Old Man Who Renews His Youth"the setting sun who
reappears in the morning as a youthful god. The two eyes above are the eyes of Horus, the sun
and the moon. Isis and Thoth stand on either side, and on the standards at the extreme left
and right are the vulture goddess of the south and the serpent goddess of the north.]

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These curious and interesting objects are made of basalt and other kinds of hard stone, and calcareous stone; they are in the shape of a rounded tablet, and vary in size from 3 in. x 2 in., to 20 in. x 16 in.; the Metternich stele is, however, very much larger. The scenes engraved upon them represent the triumph of light over darkness, the victory of good over evil, and cippi were used as talismans by those who were initiated into the mysteries of magic, to guard them from the attacks of noxious beasts, and from the baneful influence of Set, the god of all evil. To give an idea of these magical objects, a description of an example, in a good state of preservation, now in the British Museum (No. 957a) is here appended.1  On the front, in relief, is a figure of Horus, naked, standing upon two crocodiles, which are supported by a projecting ledge at the foot of the stele. Horus has the lock of hair, emblematic of youth, on the right side of his head, and above him, resting on the top of his head, is a head of Bes, also in relief. His arms hang at a little distance from his sides; in the right hand he holds two serpents, a scorpion, and a ram or stag, and in the left two serpents, a scorpion, and a lion. On the right is a sceptre, upon which stands the hawk of Horus wearing horns, disk and feathers,2 and on the left is a lotus-headed sceptre with plumes and two menats3 (see p. 265).

To the right and to the left of the god, outside the sceptres, are eight divisions; those on the right represent:

I. Oryx, with a hawk on his back, in front is inscribed [glyphs] "Horus, lord of Hebennu," i.e., the metropolis of the sixteenth nome of Upper Egypt.

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2. Ibis-headed god, Thoth, [glyphs] "lord of Chemennu, lord of divine words," and the god Her-shef, hawk-headed, wearing the triple crown.
3. "Heka, lord of enchantments," [glyphs], hawk-headed, holding a serpent in each hand; "Neith, mighty lady, divine mother, lady of Sais" [glyphs].
4. Hawk-headed god, mummified, wearing disk and holding a serpent in each hand; the inscription is [glyphs] "Chonsu, lord of Sam-behutet"
5. Isis, [glyphs], with the body of a hippopotamus, holding a snake; on her head she wears a disk and horns.
6. Ptah, in the form of a squat child standing on a pedestal with four or five steps; the inscription is [glyphs]. Ptah ser aa, "Ptah, prince, mighty."
7. The goddess Serqet, scorpion-headed, holding a serpent with both hands; the inscription is [glyphs] "Serqet, lady of life."
8. Goddess, wearing disk and serpent, [glyphs], on her head, standing between two serpents; the inscription reads [glyphs] "Nebt hetep."

The eight scenes on the left hand side of Horus represent:

1. Goddess, having a disk and two scorpions on her head, which is in the form of two serpents' heads, standing on a crocodile; she holds a serpent in her right hand, and a serpent and a scorpion in the left; on the crocodile's head is a bird. The inscription reads, [glyphs].
2. Crocodile, with disk and horns, on a stand; behind it a serpent Usert. The inscription reads, [glyphs] "great god."
3. Isis suckling Horus among papyrus plants, under a canopy formed by two serpents, called Nechebet and Uatchet, wearing the crown of Upper and Lower [p.360] Egypt respectively; under each serpent is a scorpion. The inscription reads [glyphs] "Isis, lady of Cheb."
4. Crocodile-headed god Sebek seated. This scene is rendered incomplete by a break in the cippus.
5. Hawk-headed god wearing the crown of Lower Egypt, and holding a serpent in his hands; he is called [glyphs] "Horus, son of Osiris, born of Isis."
6. Hawk of Horus, wearing horns and plumes standing on [glyph]; behind him is [glyph] sen, and a goddess, wearing disk and horns, and having the body of a scorpion, called "Isis-Serqet".
7. Horus, in the form of a boy, holding [glyph] over his left shoulder, seated on a crocodile, under a canopy formed by two serpents; the inscription reads, [glyphs].
8. The goddess Uatchet, wearing crown of Lower Egypt, on a papyrus sceptre; behind her Hu and Sau, each holding a knife. Above the two crocodiles on which Horus stands are two small scenes in each of which is a crocodile, one being on a stand: that to the right of Horus has on his head [glyph] and that on the left [glyph]; the former is called "Hidden is his name," and the latter, "Horus in Uu."

The inscription, which covers the front and base of the pedestal and back and sides of the cippus, contains an invocation to the god from whom the person for whom it was made seeks to gain power.


Back, detail

Cippi of Horus belong probably to the period which followed soon after the end of the rule of the XXVIth dynasty over Egypt, and the inscriptions on them are badly executed. They are generally found broken in half, or if not broken, the head of Horus has been hammered to deface the features; these injuries probably date from ancient times.

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The largest and finest specimen of the cippi of Horus is that preserved in the Museum of Metternich Castle at Konigswarth in Bohemia. It was found in the beginning of this century at Alexandria during the building of a fountain in a Franciscan convent there, and was given to Prince Metternich by Muhammad 'Ali in 1828. It is made of a hard, dark green stone upon which the figures of the gods and the inscriptions are finely and beautifully cut. The inscriptions have much in common with the magical texts inscribed upon papyri in London, Turin, and Paris, and are of great interest; this stele was made for Nectanebus I., about B.C. 370. A fac-simile of the stele and the text was published with a German translation and notes by W. Golenischeff, Die Metternichstele .... zum ersten Mai herausgegeben, Leipzig, 1877. A long article is devoted to the consideration of the cippi of Horus by Lanzone, Dizionario, pp. 583-594; and see Birch in Arundale and Bonomi, Gallery of Antiquities, p. 39 ff.

Front, full Back, full

FOOTNOTES

1 A faulty copy is given in Wilkinson, The Ancient Egyptians, Vol. III., pl. XXXIII.

2 The inscription reads [glyphs] "Behutet, great god."

3 The inscription reads, [glyphs].