What Do the Crook and Flail Symbolize?

The crook and flail were symbols connoting a pharaoh's responsibilities to rule Egypt. The shepherd's crook symbolized the flock of Egypt's people, while the flail was an agricultural tool used to harvest grain. Both tools, carried as symbolic scepters, meant power and responsibility for the pharaoh.

Egyptologists believe the crook and flail were essential objects carried by pharaohs. The metal objects were meant to be held in the ruler's hands, across the chest, and new kings processed with a crook and flail during coronation ceremonies. The objects were especially important during special events that demonstrated a pharaoh's power. The crook is curved, like a hook attached to a long rod. A flail is a rod attached to three beaded strands.

Perhaps the finest example of such symbols, as of 2014, was found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun. The crook and flail found in King Tut's tomb are made of copper alloys, blue glass and gold. The end caps of the pharaoh's crook and flail are inscribed with his name. The scepters were found in a royal box next to the king's mummified remains.

The crook and flail originated as symbols of Egyptian gods, usually Ra and Osiris. The earliest known depiction of an Egyptian king holding the crook and flail is from a small statue of Ninetjer, a king of the Second Dynasty.