Friday, January 6, 2012

Raiders of the Lost Ark, part 3 - the Staff of Ra and the Hebew High Preist

Indiana Jones with a vexilloid - the Staff of Ra

Vexillology is mostly the study of flags, but it also encompasses objects that act in a similar manner to flags - especially staffs, maces, or sacred poles. In Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981, the Staff of Ra is not a flag but is a vexilloid. The headpiece features an ornamental design with a red crystal. The headpiece or finial was given to Indy from his true love sweet heart, Marion.

When the Staff of Ra is put in the proper place at the right time in an ancient Egyptian map room, it reflects the light of the sun to reveal the hidden location of the Lost Ark.

Notice Ancient Egyptian Vexilloids on the Wall
the crook and other staff - denoting rank and power

In this scene Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is disguised as an Egyptian worker in native Islamic dress in order to get access to the map room. Indy has additional information that the Nazi's are unaware of, this allows him to find the Lost Ark before the Nazis.

The 'Hebrew' Ram Staff
Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981

Later in the movie they open the ark on a secret inland in the Mediterranean Sea. Before opening the Lost Ark they decided to follow proper Old Testament ritual in order to see its contents. The man on the left Rene Belloq (Paul Freeman) is dressed as the Hebrew High Priest. Rene is holding a vexilloid. Its finial is a multi-faced golden ram head. The High Priest also has the breastplate of the 12 tribes of Israel with its assigned crystal.

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