ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
  • J. Gwyn Griffiths. [review of] Elkab I. Les monuments religieux a I'entrie de l'ouady Hellal by Phillipe Derchain. Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 59 (Aug., 1973), pp. 257-259. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3856146

    "In this region the desert landscape confronts huge formations of rock, and Derchain believes that a ritual attested in reliefs and inscriptions is that of welcome to the goddess who returns from Nubia in the manner of Hathor-Tefnut. Thus the central scene in the Ramesside chapel (pl. 33), fragmentary though it is, shows an object (now missing) being offered to Re-Harakhty; it is being presented by Nekhbet, who is followed by Onuris and Thoth. Derchain... argues that the missing object is a wedjat-eye... he suggests also that the scene is unique in representing the return of the 'distant goddess' who is here embodied in Nekhbet." Griffiths agrees that the object is a wedjat-eye, but thinks it, and not Nekhbet, represents the stray Eye of Re.

    "Derchain's notes are always instructive, and among the points of mythological interest are the assimilation of Nephthys and Tefnut (p. 38), an association of Nephthys and Thoth (p. 41), the designation of Cleopatra III as 'strong bull, female Horus' (p. 49) [...] On p. 63 Derchain seems intrigued by a mention of Sothis in a context where Nesert, the uraeus, is identified with Bastet. There is a good deal of evidence for an association of Sothis and Bastet and the eye of Re".

    [See the first comment about that "association between Nephthys and Thoth".]

  • Cauville, Sylvie. Le panthéon d'Edfou à Dendera. BIFAO 88 (1988), p. 7-23

    This includes an illustration of a snake-headed Nephthys and a lion-headed Isis, winged and brandishing ostrich feathers. The inscription calls her "Isis who protects her son with her wings".

    Wish I could get a higher-quality picture than this:

    leontocephale isis

  • Kákosy, László and Ahmed M. Moussa. A Horus Stela with Meret Goddesses. Studien zur Altägyptischen Kultur, Bd. 25 (1998), pp. 143-159. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25152758

    This is about a stela from Thebes, from the first half of the first millennium BCE, held in the Museum of Seized Antiquities in Cairo. Unusually, even though it's got Horus on the crocodiles, it's got a prayer to Amun, traditional enemy of crocs, with some great lines: "Amun is the triumph. The name of Amun is more powerful than millions. More forceful is Amun-Re(?) than every amulet and your own eye." But of course what attracted my attention was this part of the spell: "Your mouths are sealed by Re, your gullets are blocked by Sakhmet. A voice of lamentation (is heard) from the temple of Neith, a loud wailing from the mouth of the Cat. The gods (say): 'what is it, what is it' ... Re, did you not hear the loud sound in the night on that bank of Nedit and the long silence among all the gods and all the goddesses... There is a voice of lamentation in the temple of Neith, a wailing, a wailing (in) the mouth of the Cat because of those (things) which Mag has committed." Mag or Mega is a crocodile, the son of Seth, often the target of spells like this. But who is the Cat?

    ETA: Links!

    I'm reverse-engineering Mesopotamian hit songs

    Maya Blue Paint Recipe Deciphered

    Scholars Race to Recover a Lost Kingdom on the Nile (Kush; June 19, 2007)

    6,000-Year-Old Temple with Possible Sacrificial Altars Discovered (Trypillian culture)

    Ancient 'Egyptian blue' pigment points to new telecommunications, security ink technology

    Unmasking the gods (28 February 2002; "the remains of a ritual costume worn by an Egyptian priest some 2,500 years ago")

    Tattoos: The Ancient and Mysterious History

    Massive 5,000-Year-Old Stone Monument Revealed in Israel

    Mysterious 'Spellbook' From Ancient Egypt Decoded

  • ikhet_sekhmet: (nehebkau)
    I'm too tired this evening to do any really useful work, so instead, I shall blog about the goddess Tefnut's penis, mentioned in one mythological text, "The Revelation of the Mystery of Four Balls". (IIUC, during the ritual, each ball was given a message for the forces of evil in the form of a recited spell, and then whacked in one of the four cardinal directions by pharaoh, using a special bat.)

    penis of tefnut 2-a

    If you're interested in complex sexuality, as I am, there's a danger of seeing it when it isn't really there. But the converse is also true, of course. Puzzled by the passage ("qui n'offre aucun sense intelligble"), Goyon translated it as "you [Seth] have taken away the land-heritage [mt3t] of Tefnut"), But van Dijk ("I do not believe it is necessary to emend the text as Goyon has suggested) renders it: "you have taken away the penis [mt3] of Tefnut."

    So what's that all about, then? Van Dijk explains: "In this text Tefnut represents the primeval wife of the Creator god Re-Atum, who like Iusa'as and Nebethetepet symbolises the 'hand' with which the god masturbated in order to impregnate himself. By taking away the penis of this primeval androgynous goddess, Seth frustrates Re's rebirth and resurrection", just as he does in the story van Dijk is considering, in which Seth copulates with the Creator god's wife in the form of the god's Seed, the Seed embeds herself in Seth's forehead and poisons him, and Isis has to extract it.

    (My impression is that the Seed is comparable to the Eye - an active part of the god which can be separated from him and have temper tantrums to boot! When she attacks Seth, she "flew up to his forehead, to the region of his eyebrows", which is where you'd expect to find the Eye in uraeus form.)

    I wonder if there are matching references to, say, Shu's womb which could support van Dijk's reading of the line.

    Goyon, Jean-Claude. Textes mythologiques II. "Les révélations du mystère des Quatre Boules". Bulletin de l’Institut Français d’archéologie Orientale 75, 1975, pp 349-399.
    Van Dijk, J. "'Anat, Seth and the Seed of Pre". in J. H. Hospers and Herman L.J. Vanstiphout (eds). Scripta Signa Vocis. Groningen: Egbert Forsten, 1986, pp 31-51.

    CT 331

    Feb. 29th, 2012 05:41 pm
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    Spell 331 of the Coffin Texts is awesome. (I found my way to it via a discussion in The Coffin of Heqata.) The deceased identifies him or herself with Hathor, and gives us one of those glorious bursts of self-praise: she is "the Primeval, the Lady of All", from whom all the others gods flee (Cf the Exaltation of Inanna: "O my lady, the Anunna, the great gods, fluttering like bats fly off from before you to the clefts"). She calls herself "that Eye of Horus, the female messenger of the Sole Lord", and identifies herself with the Eye of Atum or Re, who set out to find and return Shu and Tefnut to their father. She also identifies herself with the goddesses Shesmetet and Wadjet.

    Looks as though Willems translates CT 331 differently to Faulkner - for example, compare respectively "She claims to have the heart of a lion - a reference to the Destruction de Hommes? - and to have the lips of an executioner" and "my heart is the lion-god, my lips are the [sytyw]" ("the meaning of this last word is not known"). (Faulkner notes that one version has "my heart is the lion-god(s)" - Shu and Tefnut?)

    Hathor remarks, "I have given my tears", which Willem interprets as a reference to the myth spelled out in Papyrus Bremner-Rhind XXVII,1-3, in which the Eye returns with Shu and Tefnut, "only to discover that Atum had made a new Eye... Distressed by this discovery, the eye wept (rmi), and humanity (rmt) originated in its tears." So Hathor is claiming to have created the human race.

    (This self-praise continues in CT 332, but without explicit reference to the Eyes. There's a lot of Hathoric sky and light imagery, and an intriguing reference: "I am the third one, mistress of brightness, who guides the great ones who are languid on the paths of the wakeful." Willems suggests this Third One is Sothis.)

    As Willems points out, here Hathor is the sun-god's protector and supporter, as befits his Eye. Discussing the prominent role of eyes in Egyptian myth, he remarks, 'First and foremost, there is the myth about the Eye of Horus, which was torn out by Seth but restored later by Thoth... Via the connection with Thoth, but also as the Left Eye of Horus, it was identified with the moon... but because Horus was sometimes interpreted as a solar deity, the 'Eye of Horus' could equally well be the sun." Then there's the myth of the Distant Goddess, in which the sun-god's eye departs for Nubia, and is brought back by another deity. Different versions of the myth involve different sun-gods, different Eyes of Re such as Hathor, Tefnut, and Wepset, and, as the god who brings her home, Onuris ("who brings back the distant one"), Shu, Thoth, or "forms of Horus". (And there's one where "a Hathor-like goddess went into the Libyan desert". Blimey.) Since the sun god can appear as Horus, Willem remarks, "it is not surprising that there was a degree of interference between the myth complexes concerning the Eye of Horus and the Onuris legend."

    So, as Willems sees it, this spell combines the various eye myths, allowing the person reciting it to identify "with the solar eye in as many capacities as possible". (p 352)
    ikhet_sekhmet: (wings)
    Claude Traunecker, in The Gods of Egypt (p 57):

    "Sometimes, the divine consort was a doublet created by the grammatical marker of the opposite gender. Sokaret, feminine version of the god Sokar; Input, companion of Anubis (Inpu); Tefen and Sesha, masculine forms of the goddesses Tefnut and Seshat."

    Gods this obscure are, for some reason, irresistible to me. There might be nothing more left of them than their names, mentioned a handful of times, or just once. Ptah-Sokaret pops up in an epithet of Ramses IV in The Book of the Night (I guess in his tomb). And I think nowhere else at all. I wonder if there's a picture?

    (Confusingly, Sesha is also the name of a serpent in Hindu mythology. And as for Input, don't try Googling her. :)
    ikhet_sekhmet: (lioness)
    A footnote in Mistress of the House, Mistress of Heaven gives a list of "almost forty [Egyptian] goddesses with leonine associations". Using the footnote's spelling, they are:

    Matit ("The Dismemberer")
    Mehit ("The Seizer")
    Pakhet ("The Mangler")
    the lioness of Athribis

    Blimey, I've never even heard of some of those! What a find! Hmm, I count 34, and I think some of those might be the same goddess with different names. OTOH, there's one missing - Henut-Mestjet or Mestjet (known from just one stela). ETA: And another - the goddess Ai!

    ("Leonine associations" is a bit vague. Many of these goddesses are routinely represented as a lioness-headed woman - but what's the connection for the others?)

    I'll add more stuff to this posting as I go along:
    • Djedet is "a protective goddess" in The Book of Traversing Eternity, although not in a liony way.

    • Geraldine Pinch notes that "Hathor, Lady of Mefkat... appears in lioness-headed form on a stela from Serabit el-Khadim."

    • Another addition: Seret is attested by an inscription on a 5th Dynasty statue. (Note to self: Le Role et le Sens p 386; Reallexikon der Religionsgeschichte p 199, Fisher 200.932 2 )

    • Here's Matit in the Lexikon. She was worshipped alongside the falcon deity Anty at Deir el Gebrawi in the Twelfth Nome of Upper Egypt. Here she is in Constant de Wit's Le Role Et Le Sens Du Lion Dans Legypte Ancienne. She had a male counterpart, the god Mati.

    • Wepset appears in the Coffin Texts (CT I, 376/7a-380/1a), in which fire is given "several different names, including Wepset and w3w3.t-flame." (Willems 1996.) She is the Eye of the Sun and the Distant Goddess ("Wawat" is Lower Nubia). "Shu is regularly identified with Onuris" and in this spell Shu is said to "extinguish the flame, to cool Wepset and extinguish the w3w3.t-flame which dispels the mourning of the gods." Willems also notes that a female w3w3.t-flame, personifying "the burning poison in a person's body" is cooled "in a magical text on the Socle Béhague (h25-26)". (p 317)

    • Seems like a reasonable place to throw in these snippets from The Life of Meresamun: "The multiple flexible strands of the menat are represented as a broad collar with falcon terminals around the neck of a female deity, most commonly Hathor but sometimes also Isis or the feline-form goddesses Tefnut, Sekhmet, Menhit, and Bastet." (p 37) "Among deities, Hathor, Mut, Sekhmet, and Tefnut are shown wearing them and, for unknown reasons, the menat was the characteristic emblem of the male god Khonsu." (p 39) Mistress of the House, Mistress of Heaven notes that lioness-headed goddesses "are known in relief as early as the Old Kingdom and in three dimensions from the New Kingdom." (p 138)

    • A statue of Prince Hetep-Seshat and his missus lists amongst his titles "prophet of Khentichemi [Khenti-kheti?], prophet of Banebdjedet, prophet of Horus and Seth... prophet of Bastet, prophet of Shesemtet." He was a busy lad.

    • Aperet-Isis formed a triad at Akhmim with Min and Kolanthes. (ETA: Aha! Henadology reports that Arepet-Isis is actually an epithet of Repyt.)

    • Isis was depicted with a lioness head on Sidonian amulets.

    Capel, Anne K. and Glenn E. Markoe. Mistress of the House, Mistress of Heaven: women in ancient Egypt. New York, Hudson Hills Press in association with Cincinnati Art Museum, 1996.

    Pinch, Geraldine. Votive Offerings to Hathor. Oxford, Griffith Institute, 1993.

    Teeter, Emily and Janet H. Johnson (eds). The Life of Meresamun : a temple singer in ancient Egypt. Chicago, Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 2009.

    Willems, Harco. The Coffin of Heqata (Cairo JdE 36418) (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 70). Peeters Publishers and Department of Oriental Studies, Leuven, Belgium, 1996.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    Clark translates the name of the Hermopolitan Ogdoad as "Nothing, Inertness, Infinity and Invisibility or Darkness". Which is pretty cool.

    Gengen-wer! An old favourite. "There was another version of the myth [of the cosmic egg] in which the egg was laid by a goose, the Great Primeval Spirit. This bird was 'the Great Cackler' [I prefer the translation 'the Great Honker', lol] whose voice broke the silence - 'while the world was still flooded in silence.'" (p 56)

    "In a Nile hymn the annual inundation of the Nile is said to be: 'The flood of the eye of Atum when the water rises and the overflow appears,' from which it seems that the eye of Atum makes the waters active." (Coffin Texts, IV, 140d)

    Things of interest for later follow-up:

    • The identification of Tefnut with Maat in Coffin Text 80. And the story of the Eye searching for the lost Shu and Tefnut, I think from the same spell (and/or the Bremner Rhind Papyrus). Looks like there's some relevant stuff in Assmann's The Search for God in Ancient Egypt.

    • Clark gives "Pyramids Texts 581 ff" as the reference for "an allusion to a lost legend that Nut rebelled against her mother 'while still in the womb' - the lines are "O Nut! ... you waxed mighty in the belly of your mother Tefnut before you were born... you stirred in the belly of your mother in your name of Nut, you are indeed a daughter more powerful than her mother."

    • "The texts of the Old Kingdom contain echoes of a mass slaughter of the denizens of the Abyss [the Cannibal Hymn] or of the defeat of a monster of chaos [G. Posener, 'Le légende de la mer insatiable', Annuaire de l'Institut de Philologie et d'Histoire Orientales et Slaves, XIII, Brussels, 1953, 461 ff.]." (p 74)
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    I'm very curious about the identification of the Eye of Re with the Eye of Horus, and what this has to do with the identification of goddesses like Bastet and Wadjet. First stop: the Lexikon der ägyptischen Götter und Götterbezeichnungen, a huge dictionary listing every deity name and giving their attestations. In German. It's very educational, especially when there are words like "Kopfschmuck" to be learned.

    Anywho, the Lexikon lists numerous instances of Bastet being conflated with another goddess:

    ETA: Bastet-Sothis

    And, amongst various titles:

    Bastet, Eye of Horus

    Not to mention... )

    That gives me plenty to go on. But something I'm not clear on is how Egyptologists know to use a hyphen - that is, when the name is a conflation of the goddesses and when it isn't. Why is Mwt-Tm "the mother of Atum" and not "Mut-Atum"? Mostly the conflations are just long strings of names, but in some cases, such as Bastet-Sekhmet and Menhit-Neith, they're unmistakenly a single word, with all the determinatives coming together at the end instead of ending each individual name. And does the order of the names carry any meaning?

    Leitz, Christian. Lexikon der ägyptischen Götter und Götterbezeichnungen. Dudley, MA, Peeters, 2002-2003.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    On to Hathor and the other sun-eyes, Sekhmet and Tefnet.

    Hathor, writes Bleeker, has an "inflammable temperament", which can be calmed by the sound of the sistrum (p 59-60) - possibly imitating the sound of the wind in the reeds in the wild cow's marshy home - and by dancing and general festivity - music, acrobats, drinking, etc. At Edfu one text describes the gods playing the sistrum and the goddesses dancing "to dispel her bad temper". (p 57) At Deir el-Bahri there's "a representation of a festive procession held on New Year's day in which Libians (sic) demonstrate their famous art of dancing... to commemorate the arrival from Nubia of Tefnet". (p 56)

    Like Tefnut, Hathor is a sun-eye and an angry goddess who needs pacifying. "... Hathor was thought to be identical with Wpš, 'the beautiful shape of Tefnet', or in other words the appearance of he goddess whose rage has cooled down and who is benevolent." (p 68) A calendar makes the link between the two goddesses explicit, with Hathor's festival on 19-21 Tybi said to celebrate her return from Bwgm, the foreign land from which Thoth brought Tefnut home. (p 91)

    Hathor is "the mistress of fear" (p 83) of whom it was said, "Hathor is as wrathful as Sechmet and as joyful as Bast." (p 70)

    Right, that'll do for now. More in a bit...

    Bleeker, C.J. Hathor and Thoth: Two Key Figures of the Ancient Egyptian Religion. Leiden, Brill, 1973.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    Once my attention was caught by a guide leading his group through the [British Museum's] Egyptian hall... He made the bemused, elderly Americans pass and repass in front of Sekhmet, an aspect of Hat-hor, goddess of love and beauty - lion-headed, wrathful, manifesting the destructive potential of love. He urged them to step across the goddess's line of vision: "The Egyptians thought she'd curse you, but she can't. Step right up to her..." It wasn't an official museum tour, but still...
    - Ahdaf Soueif, writing in The Guardian
    A detail John Baines points out in One God Or Many?: in the Book of the Dead of Hunefer, Nut is depicted with a lioness' head (she's sixth from the left in the row of gods at the top) but Tefnut is shown with a woman's head. (In the Book of the Dead of Any, it's the other way around.) [ETA: I wonder if it's just a hieroglyphic typo!]

    Here's a terrific photo of Ra as the Cat of Heliopolis doing away with Apep. Great facial expressions on both of them. :)

    A 1987 NYT article describes an unusual miniature idol of Sekhmet from Carthage.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    "All the great gods and goddesses, as well as some of their less well-known divine colleagues, appear as amulets. Thus among lion-headed figures are found not only Sekhmet, Bastet and Wadjyt but Pakhet and Mehyt and the fierce god Mahes." (p 12)

    "The problem is that the Egyptians believed most of their gods were able to manifest themselves in animal form, but there were not enough types of animal to suffice. Thus any one species might represent a number of different gods... Sekhmet, Tefnut, Mehyt, Pakhet and Bastet, even Wadjyt, might all appear as an amulet of a lion-headed woman." (p 14)

    Cat-shaped amulets, representing Bastet, were most popular in the Third Intermediate Period. (p 12)

    Andrews, Carol. Amulets of Ancient Egypt. British Museum Press, London, 1994.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    Here's that cat / lioness dichotomy again, in a pair of proverbs from The Teaching of Ankhsheshonq:

    "When a man smells of myrrh his wife is a cat before him."
    "When a man is suffering his wife is a lioness before him."

    I need to do some reading on Hathor this year, because of her close association with Sekhmet in the Destruction of Mankind, and also because she's associated with Tefnut in the Myth of the Eye of the Sun - there's that slippery interchangability between Egyptian deities, so several of them are "the Eye of Ra". (Hathor also flashes Ra in The Contendings of Horus and Seth and makes him laugh! Spot the parallel with Baubo in the story of Demeter's search for Persephone.)
    Houlihan, Patrick F. Wit and Humour in Ancient Egypt. Rubicon, London, 2001.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    Complete Gods and Goddesses has an entire section on cat and lioness deities! Alongside the familiar ones like Mahes and Pakhet, there are gods I've never even heard of: the sphinx earth god Aker, Apedamak, Mekhit, Menhyt, Mestjet, the twin lions called Ruty, Seret, Shesmetet, and Tutu.

    Read more... )

    Wilkinson, Richard H. The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt. Thames and Hudson, London, 2003.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    Just a few snippets.

    Quirke says that Bastet "originally took leonine form, until the first millennium BC when she was shown instead as a cat".

    "Tefnut... took the leonine form, and appeared in a late version of the story as the goddess-eye who had to be coaxed back to Ra from Nubia... The goddess Mut, consort of Amun in the New Kingdom and later, drew on the imagery of both vulture and lioness, but stood more often as a woman, as did Hathor when representing human sexual love." Quirke notes it was Thoth who brought Tefnut home. Wadjyt, more familiar as a cobra, could also be represented as a lioness.

    Later in the book he mentions "Pakhet, 'the scratcher', who took the role of raging leonine goddess at the limestone quarries in the desert valley south-east of Bani Hasan in Middle Egypt, and Maihesa, 'the wild lion', worshipped as son of the lenoine goddesses Bast and Sekhmet in the Delta cities Bubastis and Taremu (rendered Leontopolis, 'city of the lion', by the Greeks."

    Quirke, Stephen. Ancient Egyptian Religion. New York : Dover, 1997.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    Some snippets from Wine and Wine Offering in the Religion of Ancient Egypt:

    Wine was the drink of "well-to-do" Egyptians, often imported, and and was used in funerary and temple offerings and in medicine. The earliest known scene of a wine offering is from the king Sahure's Pyramid temple. He's shown offering wine to Sekhmet, with an inscription that reads in part, "Wine and libation for the ka of the Mistress of the Two Lands, Sekhmet of Sahure".

    Sekhmet was associated with wine due to the story of "The Destruction of Mankind". Noting that wine is often offered along with Maat, the author points out that Sekhmet "represents the untamed nature. The appeasement of Sekhmet, therefore, means the restoration of the cosmic order." One liturgy says, "How sweet it its taste (literally, its beauty) to the nose of the Leader of the gods, Sekhmet, in happiness."

    I had no idea that Tefnut was linked to Hathor, and portrayed as a lioness-headed woman! Must follow this up.

    Poo, Mu-Choo. Wine and Wine Offering in the Religion of Ancient Egypt. Kegan Paul, London, 1995.


    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    Plaything of Sekhmet

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