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Variable of the Day, Ancient Egypt: Tail

Egyptian art pharaoh tail

Tomb of Ramses VI (KV 9)

NOTE: The tail worn by the king is one of the oldest elements of royal regalia.  It appears on the Narmer Palette as well as on numerous other Early Dynastic objects (such as this ivory label of Den from Abydos).  Usually, it is clearly rendered as a bull tail, connecting the king to this virile, powerful animal.  The sexual potency of the wild bull is regularly highlighted as a metaphor in New Kingdom texts referring to the king and his titles include “Strong Bull”.  An inlaid tail was discovered on the mummy of Tutankhamun, indicating the continued importance of this element of regalia for the identification of the king in the Afterlife.  Male deities often sport this element as well.

 

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The Art of Counting is dedicated to the memory of Margery Meilleur, who first taught me to view history through the eyes of the images we create.