The Crook and Flail in Ancient Egypt

Ambergris - Known today as the rockrose, a shrub which produces beautiful, five-petal flowers; this plant was very famous in ancient Egypt. The whole genus, Cistus, is highly resistant to heat and drought. They have come into the warmer landscape as a staple flowering shrub that grows where few other plants stand a chance. It is a native of the Mediterranean region. Plants contain aromatic oils in abundance. The scent of rock rose oil is very powerful and distinctive. This oil of rock rose has since antiquity been of great value. It is called ladanum, which is reflected in the name of the most oil rich species, Cistus. What made ladanum so coveted is that its properties and scent were similar to ambergris, a byproduct of sperm whales. Collecting ladanum from wild rockroses was done through two methods. First was a process by which special absorptive materials such as cloth or hair was brushed over the top of the plants so that the oil built up on the fibers. It was then heated to release the oils under a more controlled extraction process. It is believed that the flail seen in the hands of gods and pharaohs of ancient Egypt was actually a ladanisterion, or ladanum collecting device. The second method of harvest utilized the herds of goats that are so prevalent in this part of the world. As the goats browsed on rockroses, the oil accumulated in their beards. Each year the long beards of the goats were cut and the oil extracted. For the pharaohs, the false beards glued to the chin were in fact these ladanum-rich goat beards which would surround the man with the desired scent. This is origin of the name for such facial hair, the goatee.
The Crook and Flail in Ancient Egypt

Egypt Feature Story

by Jimmy Dunn

The crook (heka) and the flail or flabellum (nekhakha), are two of the most prominent items in the royal regalia of ancient Egypt. Actual, very fine examples of both survive from ancient Egypt, as do statues and various wall reliefs, paintings and papyrus with representations of these objects. The crook and flail, though different scepters, could every so often be depicted separately, though usually paired with some other type of scepter, but they were most commonly represented together, held across the chest of the kings, Osiris, or other gods identified with them. They were insignias of kingship, and while other deities could proffer them, they never Note the flail held by King Narmer on his famous Palette, a very early example, but also note the lack of a crook.kept them.

................................. However, some scholars prefer to regard it as a ladanisterion, a flail-like instrument used until the present day by shepherds in the Mediterranean region and

Flail ( Flabellum ) Symbol of Guardianship.

The flail has long associations with the gods Osiris, Min, and several sacred animals. And like the crook (Sceptre), it was one of the important insignias of royalty. Some scholars believe it to be a whip, maybe derived from a fly whisk. Whilst others think it represents the ladanisterion, an instrument used by very early goatherders. As such, it would symbolise, past traditions and the shepherding aspects of Pharaoh's role as king. The ancient Egyptian name for a flail was nekhakha .