The Turquoise Pendant – Mythology from Ancient Egypt

The Turquoise Pendant

In the second of the three Tales of Wonder contained in the Westcar Papyrus, Prince Baufre tells of his father’s father, King Snefru, and Snefru’s lector priest Djadjaemankh.

The day was especially hot. Bored to distraction, King Snefru summoned the Djadjaemankh, one of his lecter priests and demanded entertainment. Djadjaemankh, whose name translates as ”he who carries the ritual book”, came up with a plan. The king should go out in a boat on the palace lake, where he could cool off and take in the beauty of the scenery. To add to Sneferu’s enjoyment, it was suggested that the boat be rowed by twenty of the most attractive girls from the royal harem.

The King’s downcast visage brightened at once. “Let the boat be fitted with gilded oars of ebony and sandalwood,” he ordered enthusiastically. The girls were instructed to replace their regular linen shifts with nets of feance beads that scarcely concealed their curves.

At first, all went well. The king reclined happily, enjoying the flowers, the birds and the fish of his lake, but devoting most of his attention to the efforts of his scantily-clad crew. After a while, however leading rower inadvertently dropped the fine turquoise pendant she wore in her braided hair into the lake. She cried out in dismay, and the rowing stopped. The poor girl was distraught at her loss. Indulgently, the king offered to replace the lost pendant from his own abundant reserves of turquoise, but the girl insisted that nothing other than the return of her own ornament would satisfy her.

“Djadjaemankh!” called the king. “Solve the problem.” The lector priest bowed, and at once uttered a powerful spell. Instantly, the waters of the lake rolled back to reveal the amulet lying safely on the dry bed. Djadjaemankh retrieved it, climbed back to the lake bank and used another spell to return the lake to its former level.

Snefru was deeply impressed by Djadjaemankh’s prodigious powers and rewarded the servant with riches. The girl put her amulet back in her hair, and the rowing party continued throughout a long and happy afternoon.