Magic gem depicting Harpocrates on lotus flower, Getty Museum 84.AN.1.74

 

Getty-Museum,-Villa-Collection,-Malibu,-California,-84.AN.1.74-2
Getty-Museum,-Villa-Collection,-Malibu,-California,-84.AN.1.74-2-RS
Getty-Museum,-Villa-Collection,-Malibu,-California,-84.AN.1.74-2 Getty-Museum,-Villa-Collection,-Malibu,-California,-84.AN.1.74-2-RS

Description

Depository: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California
Inventory number: 84.AN.1.74
Material: green-blue glass
Date: 2nd-4th century
Place of discovery: unknown
Dimensions: 2 × 1.6 cm

Front
Depiction of Harpocrates seated on a lotus flower, his left thumb at his mouth and in his right hand the flail. This is a common representation of Harpocrates.

Reverse
Blank

Notes
Harpocrates is the name for the Egyptian god Horus as a child. He is often depicted sitting on a lotus flower with his thumb to his mouth.

@noah_nonsense asked me on Twitter: „What makes this a *magical* gem?“[1] An excellent question, and while I referred to other examples with an Abrasax inscription on the back side, he made me aware of „A praxis known from a papyrus (PGM LXI 1–38) specifies that love charms had to be incised with the image of Harpocrates on a lotus flower and the magical name Abraxas.“ And here is the quote:

„Commendable love charm: (…) And whenever you perform this spell, have an iron ring with yourself, on which has been engraved Harpokrates sitting on a lotus, and his name is ABRASAX.“
PGM LXI, 174 ff., translation by Betz, Greek Magical Papyri, 1986, 291.

Thank you @noah_nonsense!

For more examples, see the Campbell Bonner Magical Gems Database:

Image source: https://www.getty.edu/art/collection/objects/17660/
© The J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California

 


[1] https://twitter.com/noah_nonsense/status/1505568898216865792


Literature

Frank Sternberg, Zurich. Antique Munzes, auction XI, November 20-21, 1981, 148, lot 1136, pl. LX.

Michel, Simone. The Magic Gems. On images and magic formulas on cut stones of antiquity and modern times. (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2004), 270-271, 19.1.d.

In detail about Harpocrates:
Sandra Sandri, Har-Pa-Chered (Harpocrates). Die Genese eines ägyptischen Götterkindes, Leuven u. a. 2006.