The Egyptians wore amulets alongside other pieces of jewellery. They were decorative, but also served a practical purpose, being considered to bestow power and protection upon the wearer. Many of the amulets have been found inside the wrappings of mummies, as they were used to prepare the deceased for the afterlife.
Amulets held different meanings, depending on their type or form. Small amulets depicting gods and goddesses seem to have induced the protective powers of the deity. On the other hand, small representations of anatomical features or creatures suggest that the wearer required protection over a specific body part, or that he/she desired the skills of a particular animal. Amulets depicting animals were very common in the Old Kingdom Period, whilst representations of deities gained popularity in the Middle Kingdom.
There were a number of maned lion goddesses in Ancient Egyptian religion, but only Bastet could transform into the cat. She often retained the lion-head when represented as a woman, which can cause her to be confused with the lion-headed goddess, Sekhmet. The presence of the sistrum here, a musical instrument connected with merrymaking, suggests that this lion-headed goddess represented Bastet in her original, fearsome form. As an amulet, it would have been worn to show particular devotion to the goddess, and to place the wearer under her protection.
To find out more about the use of faience in Ancient Egyptian culture please see our relevant blog post: What is Egyptian Faience?