My newest print features the six major goddesses of protection, motherhood, love and death from the Ancient Egyptian pantheon; Nephthys, Isis, Amentat, Hathor, Maat and Neith. Though this is my creation, the figures are stylistically based on those seen in the wall reliefs from the Temple of Seti I at Abydos, dating to around 1300 BC.
Nephthys was a funerary goddess associated with mourning, the night and magic. To Egyptians her name was Nebet-Het, which meant “the Mistress of the House”, and she wears the hieroglyphic sign of her name on her head, formed of a basket on top of a plan of an estate. She was the sister of Isis and Osiris, and the sister-wife of Seth and mother to Anubis, the god of embalming.
Isis was a goddess of women, motherhood, fertility, and royal power. She was the sister of Nephthys and Seth and the sister-wife of Osiris and mother to Horus. Isis played an important role in the resurrection of Osiris after his murder at the hands of Seth and was believed to protect the dead with her husband in the afterlife. Upon her head is the symbol of her name which is the hieroglyph for a throne.
Amentat was a goddess of the dead and was believed to have lived in a tree at the edge of the western desert overlooking the gates to the underworld. She met the souls of the recently deceased and offered them bread and water before ushering them into the realm of the dead. Her name means “She of the West” and her crown is the sign representing the west (a semi-circle on top of one long and one short pole) surmounted by a hawk.
Hathor was one of Egypt’s earliest goddesses and was worshipped as the divine representation of protection, motherhood, queenship, music, dance, joy, love and sexuality. She was the daughter of Ra, the all-powerful sun god, and wears a solar disk upon her head within a pair of bovine horns. In Egyptian, her name meant “House of Horus”, referring to her role as the wife of Horus, the sky god associated with kingship.
Maat was the personification of balance and harmony. The Egyptians believed the balance of the universe was determined by the presence or absence of maat, which had the meaning of rightness, truth, justice and order. Without maat, there was isfet or chaos, and Maat regulated the stars, seasons, and the actions of mortals and the deities who had brought order from chaos at the moment of creation. She wears an ostrich feather on her head, which could be used alone as the symbol for her name, and is often shown with protective wings.
Neith was one of Egypt’s earliest goddesses and was worshipped as the original creator of the universe and all it contains, believed to have governed how it functions. She was worshipped from the pre-dynastic period as the divine representation of motherhood, protection in the afterlife and warfare. Her name meant “she is the terrifying one” and she was associated with warfare and weaponry with the symbol on her head depicting two bows.