Anubis with Sekhem scepter Heiroglyph for Sekhem

Sekhem Scepter


Appearance: Many types of batons and scepters share the above determinative in written Egyptians. It is relatively difficult to differentiate between the various scepters and their respective offices. However, the glyph is generally understood to represent the sekhem scepter. The scepter appears to have originated in Abydos and as a fetish of Osiris.

Meaning: The sekhem scepter denotes the concept of "power" and "might". The word sekhem could also refer to divine beings, and even the stars, as "powers". The name of the warlike goddess Sekhmet means "Mighty One". The god Osiris was often called, "Great Sekhem" or "Foremost of Powers". Therefore, the sekhem was often used as a symbol of the underworld deity. Due to its association with the underworld god, the scepter also became an emblem of another mortuary god, Anubis. The scepter was often shown with the reclining god, as shown above.

After the 3rd Dynasty, the sekhem appeared in the royal names of the pharaohs, and later in the titles of queens and princesses as well. However, from the earliest times, viziers and other officials of important rank held the sekhem. Such officials were often portrayed holding the scepter in the course of performing their duties. The classic Egyptian funerary statue depicted the deceased with a staff in one hand, and the sekhem in the other. As a scepter of office, a pair of eyes were carved on the upper part of the staff.

The sekhem was also utilized in temple and mortuary offering rituals. The officiant who presented the offerings often held it. In such cases the scepter was held in the right hand and was waved four or five times over the offerings while ritual recitations were being made. A gilded sekhem scepter was found in Tutankhamun's tomb. On the back of this scepter were carved five registers depicting a slaughtered bull, which may indicate that the scepter was waved five times over the offering.

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