The CBd
Bonner, SMA, 83.

Bonner, SMA – PDF, 83.

by Du Molinet had formerly been in Chaduc's possession, and that the important inscription on its reverse was forged by Chaduc to support his interpretation of the design on its obverse face. The whole combination of conjectures without foundation and may now be ignored.

Unacceptable also is Koehler's own theory about the meaning of our design. Emphasizing the divinity of the Nile, he holds that the vessel is really a waterpot, a symbol of the sacred stream. According to Koehler, it is a vessel such as those that were fastened to the water wheel, that contrivance for irrigating Egyptian soil which has been used from ancient times even down to the present day. A single simple objection suffices to dispose of this theory. The earthen pots used on the water wheel must have a distinct foot, for they are fastened to the frame of the wheel by cords tied tight round both the neck and the foot of each vessel; but, as has been noted already, the vessels shown on the “pot amulets,” though they vary not a little in form, are all alike in never having a foot. It unfortunate that Drexler, whose knowledge of the works dealing with magical amulets was, and still is, unrivaled, should have lent his authority, and that of Roscher's Lexicon, to Koehler's mistaken notion,15 for the title “Nilotic Vessel” vies with Matter's “Vase of Sins” on the labels in our museums.

Before passing to the evidence that definitely establishes the meaning of these stones, we may note a few other curious attempts to explain, or at least to describe, the design.

Zoega, who found several stones of this type in the collection of Cardinal Borgia, says, after describing the vessel minutely, that it is placed “over a sort of stove or furnace (fornello) made of vertical bars,” which are perhaps to be turned or lifted with the aid of the crank handle at one side.16 A. Vincent took the object to be a pneumatic organ, in which the capacious vessel served as the wind chest and the crank handle helped to force in the air.17 C. W. King seems to have vacillated between two interpretations.18 In one place he recognizes in the mysterious pot the breast-shaped vessel which Apuleius describes as carried by a priest in the procession of Isis;19 yet he seems to approve Koehler's idea that the vessel shown on the amulets is a waterpot of the kind fixed upon irrigation wheels. Later, however, he accepts the natural interpretation of that inscription on the reverse of the Sainte Geneviève amulet, but without perceiving that what he calls “the udder-shaped vase” is actually meant for the uterus itself. Lord Southesk deserves credit for rejecting Koehler's interpretation, and holding firmly to the view that the “mystic vase” represents the human matrix.20

We owe it to the learning and keen perception of A. Delatte that the common-sense view of these once mysterious amulets has been definitely

15 W. Drexler, article “Isis” in Roscher, II, 1, 465.

16 Museo Borgiano, p. 462, 17.

17 A. Vincent, Mém. Soc. Ant. de France (1850), p. 4.

18 King, Gnostics, pp. 110–111, 300.

19 Apul. Met. 11, 10 ad fin.: “aureum vasculum in modum papillae rutundatum, de quo lacte libabat.”

20 Cat. Southesk Collection, I, 160 (N 33).




Cf. Dasen 2019, comm. ad Bonner, SMA 79–94



Last modified: 2019-08-03 09:37:58

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