Author Topic: Egyptian Mythology, Dynastic Period,The Goddess, Taweret  (Read 26 times)

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Egyptian Mythology, Dynastic Period,The Goddess, Taweret
« on: April 18, 2015, 09:39:54 pm »
The Goddess, Taweret

Goddess of Fertility and Childbirth

The river goddess Taweret, portrayed as a bipedal hippopotamus with limbs like those of a feline. Her hand rests on the sa sign, a hieroglyph that means "protection."
Major cult center   Not applicable; Taweret was a household deity worshipped throughout Egypt.
Symbol   the sa, ivory dagger, Hippopotamus
Consort   Seth, in accordance with Plutarch's account
Offspring   Amun-Re (Ptolemaic)
In Egyptian mythology, Taweret (also spelled Taurt, Tuat, Taouris, Tuart, Ta-weret, Tawaret, Twert, and Taueret, and in Greek, Θουέρις "Thou้ris" and Toeris) is the protective ancient Egyptian goddess of childbirth and fertility. The name "Taweret" (Tȝ-wrt) means, "she who is great" or simply, "great one," a common pacificatory address to dangerous deities.[1] The deity is typically depicted as a bipedal female hippopotamus with feline attributes, pendulous female human breasts, and the back of a Nile crocodile. She commonly bears the epithets "Lady of Heaven," "Mistress of the Horizon," "She Who Removes Water," "Mistress of Pure Water," and "Lady of the Birth House."[2]

History and development[edit]
Archaelogical evidence demonstrates that hippopotami inhabited ancient Egypt's Nile River well-before the dawn of dynastic Egypt (before 3000 BCE). The violent and aggressive behavior of these creatures intrigued the individuals that inhabited the region, leading the ancient Egyptians both to persecute and to venerate them. From a very early date, male hippopotami were thought to be manifestations of chaos; consequently, they were overcome in royal hunting campaigns, intended to demonstrate the divine power of the king.[3] However, female hippopotami were revered as manifestations of apotropaic deities, as they studiously protect their young from harm. Protective amulets bearing the likenesses of female hippopotami have been found dating as far back the Predynastic period (ca. 3000–2686 BCE). The tradition of making and wearing these amulets continued throughout Egyptian history into the Ptolemaic and Roman periods (ca. 332 BCE – 390 CE).[4]


This red jasper Ptolemaic amulet bears Taweret's likeness and represents a longstanding tradition of female hippopotamus amulets in ancient Egypt. Walters Art Museum, Baltimore.
From her ideological conception, Taweret was closely grouped with (and is often indistinguishable from) several other protective hippopotamus goddesses: Ipet, Reret, and Hedjet. Some scholars even interpret these goddesses as aspects of the same deity, considering their universally shared role as protective household goddesses. The other hippopotamus goddesses have names that bear very specific meanings, much like Taweret (whose name is formed as a pacificatory address intended to calm the ferocity of the goddess): Ipet's name ("the Nurse") demonstrates her connection to birth, child rearing, and general caretaking, and Reret's name ("the Sow") is derived from the Egyptian's erroneous taxonomical classification of hippopotami as water pigs. However, the origin of Hedjet's name ("the White One") is not as clear and could justly be debated.[5] Evidence for the cult of hippopotamus goddesses exists from the time of the Old Kingdom (ca. 2686 – 2181 BCE) in the corpus of Ancient Egyptian funerary texts entitled the Pyramid Texts. Spell 269 in the Pyramid Texts mentions Ipet and succinctly demonstrates her nurturing role; the spell announces that the deceased king will suck on the goddess's "white, dazzling, sweet milk" when he ascends to the heavens.[6] As maternal deities, these goddesses served to nurture and protect the Egyptian people, both royal (as seen in the Pyramid Texts) and non-royal.


Faience hippopotamus statuettes like this one were placed in tombs and temples to help the deceased be successfully reborn into the afterlife. Brooklyn, Brooklyn Museum.
It was not until the Middle Kingdom (ca. 2055–1650 BCE) that Taweret became featured more prominently as a figure of religious devotion. Her image adorns apotropaic magical objects, the most notable of which being a common type of "wand" or "knife" carved from hippopotamus ivory that was likely used in rituals associated with birth and the protection of infants. Similar images appear also on children's feeding cups, once again demonstrating Taweret's integral role as the patron goddess of child rearing.[7] Quite contrarily, she also took on the role of a funerary deity in this period, evidenced by the commonplace practice of placing hippopotami decorated with marsh flora in tombs and temples. Some scholars believe that this practice demonstrates that hippopotamus goddesses facilitated the process of rebirth after death, just as they aided in earthly births. These statues, then, assisted the deceased's passing into the afterlife.[8]

With the rise of personal piety in the New Kingdom (ca. 1550–1069 BCE), household deities like Taweret gained even more importance. Taweret's image has been found on an array of household objects, demonstrating her central role in the home. In fact, such objects were even found at Amarna from the reign of Akhenaten (ca. 1352–1336 BCE), an Eighteenth Dynasty pharaoh who reorganized Egyptian polytheism into a henotheistic religion focused on the worship of the sun disc, called the Aten. The worship of many traditional gods was proscribed during this period, so Taweret's survival in the artistic corpus found at the Aten's capital demonstrates her overwhelming significance in daily life.[9] In this time period, her role as a funerary deity was strengthened, as her powers became considered not only life-giving, but regenerative as well. Various myths demonstrate her role in facilitating the afterlives of the deceased as the nurturing and purifying "Mistress of Pure Water."[10] However, Taweret and her fellow hippopotamus goddesses of fertility should not be confused with Ammit, another composite hippopotamus goddess who gained prominence in the New Kingdom. Ammit was responsible for devouring the unjust before passing into the afterlife. Unlike Ammit, the other hippopotamus goddesses were responsible for nourishment and aid, not destruction.


Images of protective deities like Taweret and Bes were placed on the outer walls of Ptolemaic temples in order to keep evil forces at bay. Edfu, Egypt.
In the Ptolemaic and Roman periods (ca. 332 BCE – 390 CE), Taweret maintained a central role in daily Egyptian life. In either the latter half of the Late Period (ca. 664–332 BCE) or the early Ptolemaic period, a temple dedicated to Ipet was built at Karnak. This enigmatic temple was thought to witness the daily birth of the sun god from the hippopotamus goddesses that dwelled there. The sun god (Amun-Re) was conceived of as having multiple divine mothers, and by this later period in Egyptian history, Taweret and the other hippopotamus goddesses were included in this body of solar mothers.[11] Taweret's image also appeared on the outside of temples dedicated to other deities due to her apotropaic ability to ward off malevolent forces.[12] Outside of temple settings, the household cult of the goddesses remained strong, and amulets bearing their likenesses peaked in popularity during these years.

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« Last Edit: April 20, 2015, 02:36:59 pm by Golden Falcon »

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