Nekhbet is a vulture Goddess of Upper Egypt, Childbirth and Protector of Pharaoh, she was originally the patron Goddess of Nekhen
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Friday, 22 March 2019

Nekhbet - Goddess of Upper Egypt

Nekhbet - Goddess of Upper Egypt

Nekhbet Goddess of Upper Egypt

"Father of Fathers, Mother of Mothers, who has existed from the beginning, and is Creator of this World" - The Book of the Dead

(Nekhebet or Nechbet, meaning 'She of Nekhen')

Nekhbet is a vulture Goddess of Upper Egypt, Childbirth and Protector of Pharaoh, she was originally the patron Goddess of Nekhen (El Kab) and was later to become the Goddess that represented the whole of Upper Egypt. Nekhbet is represented as a vulture with the White Crown, her wings spread in protection while holding a shen symbol of eternity in her talons. She was closely linked with Wadjet, the Goddess of Lower Egypt, and they were depicted together on the Royal Uraeus.

She is the personification of the White Crown of Upper Egypt and as such represents the protection of the land of Upper Egypt as well as the protection of the White Crown. She was also considered to be a creator goddess who created the world by pronouncing 7 words and launching 7 arrows.

Per-wer - Shrine of Upper Egypt

Per-wer Shrine

The Per-wer (Great House) was the shrine to the Goddess Nekhbet, the vulture Goddess, and symbolised the whole of Upper Egypt. However, it also took on additional meanings and became associated with heaven and divinity. Most Egyptian coffins were designed in the shape of the Per-wer shrine.

Perhaps the most well known example was found in the tomb of Tutanknamum, here the second outermost shrine appears to imitate, in its basic form, the shape of the Per-wer, the ancient shrine of Upper Egypt.

Tutankhamun's Second Outermost Shrine

[Tutankhamun's Second Outermost Shrine]

Goddess of Childbirth

Nekhbet was initially a goddess who protected royal mothers and their children, she acts as a divine mother of the pharaoh. In royal birthing scenes, she  takes the role of protective nurse, suckling the pharaoh. It was in her mothering role that she was known as the 'Great White Cow of Nekhb', where she was described as having pendulous breasts.

By the time of the New Kingdom, she had extended her protection beyond the royal family to the common people. Here she acts as a protector of all mother, children and childbirth and was often shown as a woman wearing a vulture skin. The priestesses of Nekhbet were called muu (mothers) and wore robes of Egyptian vulture feathers.

Bibliography

The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead - Raymond O Faulkner
A Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses - George Hart
The Egyptian Book of Days - Melusine Draco
Chronicle of the Pharaohs - Peter A Clayton
A Dictionary of Ancient Egypt - Margaret Bunson
The Egyptian Book of the Dead Abridged - EA Wallis Budge

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