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An Egyptian Revival brass & enamel necklace, part of a large collection of jewelry and accessories produced for the famous “Treasures of Tutankhamen” exhibit in the 1970s. Large center scarab with extending wings toward a red sun. 20.5" total length on gold fill chain.
Khepri: The Emerging Sun God
Khepri (Kheper, Khepera, Chepri, Khephir) was associated with the scarab or dung beetle (Scarabaeus sacer), making him one of the most famous insect gods. The Egyptians watched the scarab beetle rolling dung into a ball and pushing it along the ground to its burrow. The Egyptians made a connection between the movement of the sun across the sky and the movement of the ball of dung pushed by the beetle. The solar connection was enhanced by the fact that the scarab has antenna on its head and when the scarab pushed a ball of dung along the ground, the ball would sit between the antenna in a way that was reminiscent of the solar disc flanked by a pair of horns which was worn by many deities.
One myth suggested that Khepri pushed the sun across the sky (rather than the sun travelling on the back of a bovine goddess like Nut or Hathor or travelling on a boat). Khepri was often depicted pushing the sun ahead of him and it was thought that this movement was constant. Every night, Khepri would push the sun down into the underworld, and every morning the sun would again emerge and travel across the sky. The word "kheper" means "to emerge" or "to come into being".
Khepri was soon seen as an aspect of the sun itself, in particular the sun at day break - when it "emerged" from the underworld. He was closely associated with Atum (the creator god), Nefertum (literally "young Atum" or "beautiful Atum") and Ra (who absorbed many of Atum's attributes). Khepri was the emerging sun, Nefertum was the new born sun, Ra was the sun during the day, and Atum was the setting sun. in later funerary texts, Atum and Khepri merged into a ram-headed beetle who was the ultimate expression of the power of life over death.