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In Egyptian mythology, Taweret (also spelled Taurt, Tuat, Taueret, Tuart, Ta-weret, Tawaret, and Taueret, and in Greek, Θουέρις "Thoeris" and Toeris) is the Egyptian Goddess of childbirth and fertility. The name "Taweret" means, "she who is great" or simply, "great one" . When paired with another deity, she became the demon-wife of Apep, the original god of evil. Since Apep was viewed as residing below the horizon, and only present at night, evil during the day then was envisaged as being a result of Taweret's malfeasance.

Early beliefs

As the counterpart of Apep, who was always below the horizon, Taweret was seen as being the northern sky, the constellation roughly covering the area of present-day Draco, which always lies above the horizon. Thus Taweret was known as mistress of the horizon, and was depicted as such on the ceiling of the tomb of Seti I in the Valley of the Kingsmarker.

In their art, Taweret was depicted as a composite of all the things the Egyptians feared, the major part of her being hippopotamus, since this is what the constellation most resembled, with the arms and legs of a lioness, and with the back of a crocodile. On occasion, later, rather than having a crocodile back, she was seen as having a separate, small crocodile resting on her back, which was thus interpreted as Sobek, the crocodile-god, and said to be her consort.

Later beliefs

Early during the Old Kingdom, the Egyptians saw female hippopotami as less aggressive than the males, and began to view their aggression as only protecting their young--not territorial, as was male aggression. Consequently, Taweret became seen, very early in Egyptian history, as a deity of protection in pregnancy and childbirth. Pregnant women wore amulets with her name or likeness to protect their pregnancies. Her image could also be found on knives made from hippopotamus ivory, which would be used as wands in rituals to drive evil spirits away from mothers and children.

In most subsequent depictions, Taweret was depicted with features of a pregnant woman. In a composite addition to the animal-compound she was also seen with pendulous breasts, a full pregnant abdomen, and long, straight human hair on her head.

As a protector, she often was shown with one arm resting on the sa symbol, which symbolized protection, and on occasion she carried an ankh, the symbol of life, or a knife, which would be used to threaten evil spirits.

As such a protector, Taweret also was given titles reflecting a more positive nature, including Opet (also spelt Ipet, Apet, and Ipy), meaning harem, and Reret (also spelt Rert, Reret, seen as the offspring of Nut)

As the hippopotamus was associated with the Nile, these more positive ideas of Taweret allowed her to be seen as a goddess of the annual flooding of the Nile and the bountiful harvest that it brought. Ultimately, although only a household deity, since she was still considered the consort of Apep, Taweret was seen as one who protected against evil by restraining it.

When Set fell from grace in the Egyptian pantheon, as a result of being favoured by the unpopular Hyksos rulers, he gradually took over the position of Apep, as the god of evil. With this change away from Apep, Taweret became seen only as the concubine of Set. She was seen as concubine rather than wife, as Set already was married to the extremely different goddess, Nephthys, to whom no parallels could be drawn. It then was said that Taweret had been an evil goddess, but changed her ways and held Set back on a chain.

As the goddess of motherhood, Taweret was eventually assimilated into the identity of Mut, the great-mother goddess.

Taweret

Notes

  1. http://babynamesworld.parentsconnect.com/meaning_of_Taweret.html
  2. http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/taweret.htm
  3. http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/taweret.htm
  4. http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/taweret.html


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