Youth lock

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The youth lock at Ramses II.

The youth lock (also Horus lock, prince lock, princess lock, side braid ) is the iconographic distinguishing feature of the child in ancient Egypt . As an insignia , it identifies the person wearing it as the rightful heir of Osiris . The side braid has been documented as a divine descent attribute at least since the Old Kingdom .

In early illustrations, for example, the Horus curl can be seen on cap-like short hairstyles in the cult of the dead . The usual attachment takes place later on a shoulder-length round wig , which in turn was worn in the three versions of the curly , straight and strand wig. Based on the affiliation of the side braid to the child, Egyptology coined the term “youth lock”. Both men and gods are the carriers.


Forms of the youth curl

The term “youth curl” is not entirely appropriate, as it is mostly a braided plait , the end of which is twisted into a spiral . In the representations of the Middle Kingdom , the end of the braid is curled forward.

The youth lock was usually worn on the right. It is depicted on the left or right in relief , as the youth lock would not be visible if the figure were turned to the right. A strand of hair is cut off on the side of the top of the head, which in turn is braided into three individual strands. The braided part is separated from the upper attachment by a clasp.

There are also variants such as the three-way braided side braid, the three ends of which converge in a spiral. Only in rare cases is it a lock of hair that is combined as an undivided strand of hair at the base with a clasp and also ends in a spiral.

With regard to the divine youth lock, other varieties are known. The Horus curl is braided as a side braid from three strands of pearls that appear claw-like at the lower end and are mythologically related to the goddess Mafdet .

Mythological meaning

Neferu-biti (sister of Hatshepsut ) as a child with a youth lock

The youth lock served the descendants of the king not only to identify the child, but also represented the connection to the young Horus . As the son of Osiris , Horus, as heir to the throne, was also the bearer of the side braid.

Accordingly, the children of the king, designated heirs to the throne , wore the lock of Horus due to the mythical model, which referred to the special tasks associated with it. Iconographically, the children were depicted naked and sucking on their fingers. Only the youth lock remained on the shaved head.

Amenhotep I took like Thutmose III. Recourse to the special form of the Middle Kingdom, which is related to the re-use of the image program from the Middle Kingdom. In the later period, too , this depiction of the side braid came into focus again.

With the beginning of the New Kingdom , the youth lock became a special feature of the princes and princesses of the 18th dynasty . The use of the youth lock was noticeable among the princesses, who, as children of the ruling king, were also viewed as possible heirs to the throne and were therefore also equipped with the Horus lock.

See also


  • Erika Feucht: The Child in Ancient Egypt - The position of the child in family and society according to ancient Egyptian texts and representations. Campus-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1995, ISBN 3-593-35277-X .
  • Rolf Gundlach , Matthias Rochholz: Egyptian temples. Gerstenberg, Hildesheim 1994, ISBN 3-8067-8131-1 .

Individual evidence

  1. Sylvia Schoske , Dietrich Wildung : God and gods in ancient Egypt . von Zabern, Mainz 1992, ISBN 3-8053-1420-5 , No. 85.
  2. Rolf Gundlach, Matthias Rochholz: Ägyptische Tempel. Hildesheim 1994, pp. 304-307 and 310-311.

Web links