A menat is an interesting piece from Ancient Egypt. It was worn as a necklace (mainly as an amulet for protection) and was used as a percussion instrument. Contrary to how most people wear anything resembling a pendant, the menat was worn with the beads in the front (called the aegis, which means “shield”) and the pendant (called the counterpoise) was worn in the back. The menat was associated with a few goddesses, mostly Het-Hert. The menat was important enough of an instrument it was presented to Het-Hert as an offering.
While the strand length varied the menat consisted of three parts: the aegis (shield), which was usually a series of bead strands strung together and draped across the chest; the strand, though the length of this varied; and the counterpoise, which was large enough to serve as a handle for shaking the menat and as a counterweight for the menat. The materials varied, but faience was usually the material of choice.
I didn’t have a proper counterweight nor a pendant large enough when I made this menat, so I combined a couple of pendants to get the desired length. If you can get a hold of a proper counterpoise or a large enough pendant use it. It’s also worth noting it’s important to have a long enough counterpoise because the aegis will droop otherwise. I know this because when I’ve worn this menat I made it too long to wear it with the counterpoise in the back (when I wrap it around I end up with the counterpoise in the front). I actually made my menat strand 3 1/2 feet, though I think because of my oversight 2 1/2 feet (maybe even 2 feet) should suffice.
What You’ll Need:
-nylon beading thread
-2 larger beads (I used scarab beads)
-2 pendant caps
-nylon beading thread, 2 feet
-1 pendant cap
-1 bead (I used another scarab bead)
1. Cut a strand of nylon thread roughly over 1 1/2 feet. The extra length will be used to tie loops.
2. Make a small loop on one end. Trim excess from the loop. TIP: If the loop is hard to make first loop it around something like part of a pen cap, then make a square knot under the loop.
3. String the seed beads until the total length of the beads is 1 1/2 feet. Tie the other loop like before.
4. Repeat steps 1-3 until there are at least 10-12 strands (though I think for this project I made something around 15). These will serve as the aegis.
5. Gather all the strands. Take the nylon thread for the strand and thread each loop.
6. Tie a knot when the loops on one end are threaded. I tied several knots to ensure it would stay.
7. Thread the pendant cap so the open end will face the aegis.
8. Bead until the center is reached.
9. Thread the second the pendant cap so the open end faced the pendants.
10. Thread the bead and pendants through.
11. Thread through the pendants again.
12. Thread through the bead and pendant cap.
13. Bead as on the other side. Thread the final pendant cap so the open end faced the other end faces the aegis. Take the end loops and thread together like the other side of the aegis.
14. Thread the left over thread back through the pendant cap. Tie a few knots, trim as needed.
This is a wonderful piece for ritual use. When I use it in ritual I gather up the strand and the counterpoise, letting the aegis hang. Shake gently, as if shaking a fist at someone.