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  • Writer's pictureWendy Bradfield

11 Powerful Symbols of Ancient Egyptian Royalty

Updated: May 9, 2023

1. Deshret Crown

The Deshret or Red Crown was worn by rulers of lower Egypt and is one of the oldest icons of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Otherwise known as the Red crown of the Delta region, the desert lands of lower Egypt were considered a region of chaos.

The Deshret was associated with the bloody battles fought by the sun god just before dawn.

Deities associated with the Red Crown are Horus, Wadjet, and Neith.

2. Hedjet Crown

The Hedjet or White Crown was worn by those who ruled Upper Egypt.

It was worn over 5,000 years ago in lower Nubia, and some say earlier. As with the Red Crown, the White Crown was depicted on deities like Horus and Nekhbet.

Fun fact - Pharaoh Narmer famously wore both the Red Crown and the White Crown, and you’d recognize them from the artwork on the palette of Narmer

3. The Pschent Crown

The Pschent or double Crown combines the Red & White Crown and symbolizes the unification of upper and lower Egypt.

It displayed the Egyptian cobra and a vulture, representing the lower Egyptian goddess Wadjet and the Upper Egyptian goddess Nekhbet - otherwise known as the “two ladies.”

Pharaoh Menes of the first dynasty wore the Pschent, but the first pharaoh to wear a double crown was pharaoh Djet.

Both Horus and Ra are shown wearing the Pschent as they are closely related to the pharaoh.

4. The Khepresh

The Khepresh is an ancient royal headdress known as the war crown or the blue crown.

More commonly referred to as a headdress, it was worn in the New Kingdom by pharaohs in battle and ceremonies.

The Khepresh is seen as early as the second intermediate period but is better known in the reigns of Thutmose lll and Hatchepsut.

5. Atef Crown

The Atef is the crown of Osirus, god of the afterlife, fertility, and steward of death and rebirth.

It’s a tall white conical crown like the Hedjet, sometimes with a gold disc (representing the sun) and a cobra, atop ram, or bull horns.

It’s flanked by two ostrich feathers representing truth and justice and is worn for religious ceremonies.

6. Nemes Headress

The pharaoh wore the Nemes, which replaced their crown during casual daily affairs.

The Nemes was a blue & gold fabric folded on the sides and fastened by a jeweled crown or headband (diadem).

You likely recognize the Nemes headdress from King Tutankhamun’s iconic golden face mask.

7. Crook and Flail

The crook and flail were the regalias synonymous with the pharaohs of ancient Egypt.

They symbolized dominion over the people and the lands.

The crook represents the pharaoh as a leader and shepherd of the people of Egypt.

The flail represents a weapon used to establish order and dole out punishment when necessary.

The flail is also interpreted as an agricultural tool for separating the wheat from the chaff and providing nourishment for Egypt’s people.

8. Sejem Scepter

The Sejem scepter is a staff held by the rulers of ancient Egypt and symbolizes the power, divinity, and magic of kingship.

9. Ceremonial beard

The pharaohs of ancient Egypt wore a false metal beard or a postiche representing sovereignty.

The beard was attached to a golden chinstrap and held in place by a ribbon tied over the head.

Fun fact - Only the highest-ranked officials were permitted to grow beards, and they were often hennaed with gold thread weaved throughout.

10. The Uraeus

The uraeus or cobra represents divine authority and royalty in ancient Egypt.

Wadjet, the cobra goddess, is the protector of the pharaohs. The ruling monarch was the only one permitted to wear the uraeus.

11. Diadem

Diadems are headdresses worn by Egyptian rulers and pharaohs’ children to signify royal status and dignity.

They were made of gold and sometimes silver which was rare and expensive in ancient Egypt.

This diadem crown belonged to Nubkheperre, an Egyptian king from the 17th dynasty.

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