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: Menat


Historical period(s)
Late Period, 664-332 B.C.E.
Faience (glazed composition)
16.7 x 7.1 x 1.2 cm
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
This keyhole-shaped object served as a counterpoise on a menat necklace consisting of several strands of tiny beads. At the straight end are two perforations for the attachment of bead strands. Centered near this end is the incised image of a vulture who wears a headdress and holds a flail. At the rounded end is the incised image of the kheker. This symbol is most likely a bundle of reeds bound together, forming a rosette-like design. The menat was a symbol of the goddess Hathor. The vulture incised on this example is also symbolic of the goddess Hathor, as well as of the goddess Mut.

Menat necklaces are sometimes depicted around the neck with the counterpoise hanging down between the shoulder blades; with the counterpoise extended, it could be held in the hand. As a ritual object, the necklace may have been shaken to allow the beads to connect with the counterpoise and fend off evil spirits by the noises this action created. During the festival of Hathor, the priestesses of the goddess would go from door to door shaking menats and sistra (rattle-like musical instruments) to endow the occupants of each house with the favors of life, health, and rebirth. The menat is also found in graves, where it was worn as an amulet to protect the deceased in their transition and rebirth in the afterlife.

To 1907
Unidentified owner, Egypt, to 1907 [1]

From 1907 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased in Egypt from an unidentified owner in 1907 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Pottery List, L. 1848, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

On View Location
Currently not on view
Egypt, Hathor, Late Period (664 - 332 B.C.E.), Menat, protection, vulture
Collection(s) Area
Ancient Egyptian Art
Web Resource(s)
Google Cultural Institute

Rights Statement
Copyright with museum

Please note: The Freer Gallery of Art will be closed to the public from January 2016 until summer 2017. The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Library, and Archives will remain open for the duration of the renovation. Learn more »