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Was

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The was ("power, dominion") sceptre is a symbol that appeared often in relics, art and hieroglyphics associated with the ancient Egyptian religion. They appear as long, straight staffs, with a stylized animal head on top and a forked end.

Usage

Was scepters were used as symbols of power or dominion, and were associated with the gods (such as Set or Anubis) as well as with the pharaoh. Was scepters also represent the Typhonic beast or Set animal (the mascot of the Egyptian god Set). In later use, it was a symbol of control over the force of chaos that Set represented.

In a funerary context the was scepter was responsible for the well-being of the deceased, and was thus sometimes included in the tomb equipment or in the decoration of the tomb or coffin. The scepter is also considered an amulet. The Egyptians perceived the sky as being supported on four pillars, which could have the shape of was scepters. The was sceptre is also the symbol of the fourth Upper Egyptian nome, the nome of Thebes (called Waset in Egyptian).

Was scepters were depicted as being carried by gods, pharaohs, and priests. They commonly occur in paintings, drawings, and carvings of gods, and often parallel with emblems such as the ankh-sign and the djed-pillar. Remnants of real was scepters have been found, constructed of faience or wood, where the head and forked tail of the Set-animal are visible, with the earliest examples dating back to the times of the first dynasty.

The was is also the Egyptian hieroglyphic character that stands for a word meaning power.