Ay as Sem Priest in tomb of King Tutankhamun. Note the leopard pelt – this is an example of the Imiut.

The Enigmatic Imiut: Magical Gear for Ancient Egyptian Priests

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Imiut fetish from circa 1919–1885 BC. Metropolitan Museum of Art

Imiut fetish from circa 1919–1885 BC. Metropolitan Museum of Art. ( Public Domain )

Whilst the Imiut was widely used by ancient Egyptians and many representations of it survive to this day, we do not know exactly what it was used for. As seen in this article, several interpretations have been provided by Egyptologists. It may be possible that the function of this fetish evolved as times changed. In any case, it would not be surprising if discussions about this object continue in the future, especially if new evidence comes to light.  

Three representations of the Imiut fetish.

Three representations of the Imiut fetish. (Cow of Gold/ CC BY 3.0 )

Top image: Ay as Sem Priest in tomb of King Tutankhamun. Note the leopard pelt – this is an example of the Imiut. Source: Lucas/ CC BY NC SA 2.0

By Wu Mingren


Cow of Gold, 2017. Imiut. [Online]
Available at: https://cowofgold.wikispaces.com/imiut

Dollinger, A., 2010. Ancient Egyptian symbols: the imiut. [Online]
Available at: http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/symbols/imiut.htm

Egyptian-Gods.org, 2017. Egyptian Symbols: Imiut Fetish. [Online]
Available at: http://egyptian-gods.org/egyptian-symbols-imiut-fetish/

Hill, J., 2010. Imiut. [Online]
Available at: http://ancientegyptonline.co.uk/imiut.html

Hill, J., 2010. Imiut fetish. [Online]
Available at: http://ancientegyptonline.co.uk/imiutf.html

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2017. Anubis Fetish (Imiut). [Online]
Available at: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/545547


As a form of dress it's difficult not to suspect some relationship to Heracles/Hercules' rite-of-passage-like acquisition of the Nemean Lion pelt or shamanic use of such skins for drums facilitating passage to the other world. In its form as a pelt hanging from a pole it hints at something akin to Odin's shaman-like inverted dangling from the World Tree..

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