Loti of Upper Egypt



The lotus flower, like the papyrus stalk, was abundantly used throughout all Egyptian arts. The loti’s symbolism was just as powerful. As the lotus rises and opens for the day, and sinks and closes for the night, the aesthetic magic, or spell of the flower, conveyed deeply held Egyptian religious ideals. The lotus’ imagery of daily rebirth was paired with the sun. In the Book of the Dead (an ancient Egyptian funeral text), spells can be found that purport transformation into a lotus in order to benefit from the resurrective properties of its symbolism. Remember, the Egyptians believed that the aesthetic of an object could cast a spell on those who perceived it. They believed in the power of enchantment. The lotus, and its enchanting daily symbolism cast a mesmerizing spell on ancient Egyptians.  It was often shown with the heraldic plant of Lower Egypt, the papyrus. Together, the two made a complete symbol. The papyri were seen as one, but also many. The loti were seen as birthing and in the same moment falling away. Each flower not only represented a locale and a part and parcel of the kingdom, but they communicated a duality that the ancient Egyptians held dear. When seen together the symbols united to make one very complete idea. “What was once two is now one, what appeared to be falling away is now coming back into existence.”

This unified symbol, which contains a message from our ancient ancestors, is likely the first synthesis of a dual-flower motif. We know it today as the French heraldic fleur-de-lis. In fleurs one can find every piece to a puzzle that time barely remembers. The stories of lotus and papyrus, each with their dual symbolism, come together to weave a complete story. Fused together by the hand of a king. Without this history the fleur de lis has elements that are meaningless. Although even with this new account of the fleur, we can’t explain one of the symbol’s most fundamental features. In any fleur, we find a peculiar clasp, a gathering towards the center. A bold horizontal line often represents this gathering. In this simple feature we find abundant Egyptian meaning. It’s a crucial piece to the story, one that had almost been forgotten… until now. 



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