The mongoose, or the ichneumon, as it was known to the Egyptians was considered the sacred animal of Atum. From the Third Intermediate Period, it was common to see the animal displayed with an ostrich feather and a sun disk. Alternatively it was also displayed with symbol for the city Heliopolis, known as Iwnw. Atum had his cult centre here. Atum was considered a creator god and was the foremost god to be venerated at Heliopolis. He was linked closely to solar theology, as another aspect of the sun-god Ra and the self-generating scarab. Combined as Ra-Atum, the deity symbolised the setting sun and its journey through the underworld to its rising in the east.
The ostrich feather depicted here, unusually does not refer to the goddess Ma’at, as one would expect. Instead, the feather refers to the god Shu, son of Atum and the Egyptian creation god of air and light.
To find out more about Ancient Egyptian amulets please see our relevant blog post: Egyptian Amulets and their Meanings.