A 2nd-century funerary portrait painted on wood, from the Egyptian Fayum region. This boy, who died before reaching his middle teens, is shown wearing a cord around his neck from which is suspended a pouch that most likely contained an amulet. This amulet would have been either a scrap of papyrus with a magical charm written on it intended to bring success or good health, or some sort of vegetal or animal material believed to have potency against disease. Amulets written on metal strips, on the other hand, would have been folded up, inserted in metal tubes, and worn in a similar manner. (Note: For references to other depictions of Egyptians wearing amulets, see R. Kotansky (1991), 130n.147.)



Source: Euphrosyne Doxiadis, The Mysterious Fayum Portraits: Faces from Ancient Egypt (London, 1995), pl. 77.