, from the Greek , from Egyptian ( )
"rearing cobra") is the stylized, upright form of an Egyptian
), used as a symbol of sovereignty
, and divine
authority in ancient Egypt
The Uraeus is a symbol for the goddess Wadjet
, one of the earliest of Egyptian deities, who
often was depicted as a cobra. The center of her cult was in Per-Wadjet, later called Buto by the
She became the patroness of the Nile
Delta and the protector of all of Lower Egypt
, so her image was worn by the
as a head ornament, first as the
body of Wadjet atop the head or as a crown encircling the head,
always remaining in effect part of their crown, indicating her
protection and as a claim over the land. The pharaoh was recognized
only by wearing the uraeus, which conveyed legitimacy to the ruler.
There is evidence for this tradition even in the Old Kingdom
during the third millennium B.C.
Several goddesses associated with, or being considered aspects of
Wadjet are depicted wearing the uraeus also.
At the time of the unification of Egypt, the image of Nekhbet, who
was represented as a white vulture
the same position as the patron of Upper
, joined the image of Wadjet on the Uraeus that would
encircle the crown of the pharaohs who ruled the unified Egypt. The
importance of their separate cults kept them from becoming merged
as with so many Egyptian deities. Together they were known as
The Two Ladies
, who became the
joint protectors and patrons of the unified Egypt.
Later, the pharaohs were seen as a manifestation of the sun-god
, and so it also was believed that the Uraeus
protected them by spitting fire on their enemies from the fiery eye
of the goddess. In some mythological works, the eyes of Ra
are said to be uraei. Wadjets existed
long before the rise of this cult when they originated as the eye
of Wadjet as cobra and are the name of the symbols also called the
Eye of the Moon, Eye of Hathor
, the Eye of Horus
, and the Eye of Ra—depending upon
the dates of the references to the symbols.
As the Uraeus was seen as a royal symbol, Horus
depicted wearing one. In early mythology, Horus would have been the
name given to any king as part of the many titles taken, being
identified as the son of the goddess. According to the later
mythology of Re, the first uraeus was said to have been created by
the goddess Isis
who formed it from the dust of
the earth and the spittle of the then current sun deity. In this
version of the mythology, the uraeus was the instrument with which
Isis gained the throne of Egypt for Osiris. Isis is associated
with, and may be considered an aspect of Wadjet.
Another name for this is the term "Totaf" found also in the
In 1919, after only a half-hour excavation, the Qufti worker Hosni
Ibrahim held in his hands the solid gold
Golden Uraeus of Senusret II
been decided to make a (follow-up) complete clearance of
the El-Lahun Pyramid's
rooms, at Saqqara.
start in the rock-cut offering chamber, leading from the tomb, on
the south, immediately revealed in the turnover of the six inches
of debris, the Golden Uraeus, crown ornament.
Prior to the 1922 find of Tutankhamun's
tomb, this Golden Uraeus was the only ornament ever known to be
worn by an entombed pharaoh and it was thought that it was passed
to the next pharaoh.
The Golden Uraeus is of solid gold, 6.7 cm, black eyes of
a snake head of deep
"ultramarine" lapis lazuli
, the flared
cobra hood of dark carnelian
also inlays of turquoise. For mounting on the pharaoh
's crown, two loops in the rear-supporting
of the cobra, provide the attachment points. See
Reeves Ref, pg. 157 (1920). See Hagen Ref, pg. 202.
Uraeus as a hieroglyph
Beside the Uraeus being used as an ornament for statuary or as an
adornment on the pharaoh, it also was used for jewellery
and in amulets
However another important use is as the hieroglyph
The simplest hieroglyph is the "Cobra"
however there are subcategories, referring to: a goddess, a
priestess, the goddess Menhit
, the shrine of
the goddess (àter
), the goddess Isis, and
lastly goddess: (Cobra (uraeus) at base of deity
The Rosetta Stone
uses the plural of
the last example, "3 x "god flag"
at each base of flag". The story of the Rosetta Stone has the king
(the priests of the king), listing his reasons for being honored,
and in return, "The Gods and Goddesses (plural)" reward him. The
last (2/3) of the Rosetta Stone relates how he will be honored,
including erecting the Rosetta Stone, for all to read.
Another example of the hieroglyph usage, is as adornments upon the
hieroglyph for "shrine"
, and also for buildings
See the Budge Ref.
- Budge, Sir E.A.Wallis. An
Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary, in Two Volumes, Sir
E.A.Wallis Budge, (Dover Publications, Inc, New York), c 1920,
Dover Edition, c 1978. (Large categorized listings of Hieroglyphs,
Vol 1, pp xcvii-cxlvii (97-147, 50 pgs.)
- Hagen, R. Hagen, R. Egypt; People, Gods, Pharaohs,
Rose-Marie & Rainer Hagen, (Barnes and Noble Books, New York),
c 2003, (originally: Taschen, GmbH, Koln), c 2003, 1999, pg
- Reeves, Nicholas. Ancient Egypt, The Great Discoveries, a
Year-by-Year Chronicle, Nicholas Reeves, (Thames and Hudson
Ltd, London), c 2000. See "1920, The Golden Uraeus of Sesostris II
from el-Lahun", pg. 157.