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Amulet of a Lion-Headed Cobra

A work made of glass.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of glass.


Ptolemaic Period–Roman Period, 4th century BCE–4th century CE



About this artwork

With the body of a rearing cobra and the head of a ferocious lion, this faience amulet is small but mighty. During the mummification process, amulets like this one were folded into the linen wrappings of a body to protect the deceased.

Such objects often depicted gods and goddesses in their human, animal, or mixed forms. This amulet likely represents a goddess— either Sekhmet or Wadjet— but because the image is not inscribed with a name, her identity remains uncertain. Sekhmet typically is depicted as a lioness or lion-headed woman, while Wadjet appears in the form of a cobra. In Egyptian mythology, Sekhmet and Wadjet both acted as the Eye of Re—the daughter of the sun god, Re, who also served as his protector. In the fearsome mixed form shown here, they would embody protection and power. The lion-headed cobra form could be an allusion to the uraeus, a hooded cobra worn on the crowns of royalty and deities for protection.


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Arts of Africa


Ancient Egyptian


Amulet of a Lion-Headed Cobra


Egypt (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

400 BCE–400 CE




3.2 × 2.2 × 0.9 cm (1 5/16 × 7/8 × 3/8 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Henry H. Getty, Charles L. Hutchinson, and Norman W. Harris

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


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