The Imiut was a fetish associated with embalming and the gods Anubis and Imiut (who was largely absorbed by Anubis). It represented a headless, stuffed animal skin (usually a great cat or a bull) hung on a pole planted in a pot. The tail of the animal skin has either a papyrus blossom or a lotus blossom attached to it.
Although the fetish was often made with a real animal skin wrapped in bandages, stylised versions were also popular. A set of beautiful golden Imiut fetishes were discovered in Tutankhamun’s tomb and the fetish makes a few appearances in Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple.
The fetish was sometimes known as the “Son of the hesat-Cow”, refering to the cow that gave birth to the Mnevis bull which was associated with the cow goddess Hesat (one of the godesses named as the mother of Anubis). It was clearly an ancient symbol, already in widespread use by the First Dynasty.
The purpose and meaning of the object have not been confirmed, but it is thought that the fetish was linked to the bandages used in mummification and it was apparently important in the celebrations of the “heb sed” (royal jubilee) festival.
Copyright J Hill 2010