Amulet in the shape of a fish

This amulet is made from a fine gold leaf and engraved; it represents a fish swimming towards the left with a long dorsal fin, two small ventral fins and a tail spreading out like a fan. The gills and eye are marked by small protrusions. On the body, a rock with a bluish-turquoise tone (green feldspar?) in an almond shape is set using a thin gold band. The general form of this inlaying is reminiscent of an eye, in particular, the Udjat eye, the symbol of integrity for ancient Egyptians. This is, without doubt, a representation of the Tilapia nilotica, or Boulti as it is called today in Egypt.

The theme of the fish that lived in abundance in the Nile waters has enjoyed great favour since prehistoric times: it served as the setting of many Egyptian palettes which served to crush make-up. The species, akin to the one from the African continent, are mostly edible and fish figured prominently in the diet. Subsequently, the different types of fish were invested with a special symbolic value. Read more about this object on the UNESCO Museums for Intercultural Dialogue website.

Country profile

Capital: Cairo
Region: Arab States

This platform has been developed and maintained with the support of:


UNESCO Headquarters

7 Place de Fontenoy

75007 Paris, France

Social and Human Sciences Sector

Research, Policy and Foresight Section

Silk Roads Programme