Sunday, 8 March 2020

Menat


Have a look at this object.


This is a "menat" (a musical instrument/amulet) which consists of this strange phallic thingy to which a bunch of beads were attached to.


This instrument/amulet was worn by the Holy Cow Hathor/Mehet-Weret. In fact Menat was another name for Hathor. 


The above one, was made between 664 and 380 BC. On top of it we see the lion headed goddess Tefnut (another face of Hekhmet, another face of Hathor) on the left, with a solar disc and cobra on her head, and her husband-twin brother Shu on the right, with ostrich feathers on his head. 

Tefnut carries the solar disc and the snake because the sun's heat, represented by a snake, is the strongest at the end of July beginning of August, during Leo. 

But why is Shu carrying ostrich feathers on his head? 

Well ostrich mating season begins in March or April and ends sometime before September. During that time male ostriches become aggressive, fight with each other for harems and make loud booming mating sounds...

This is exactly the period when rain season starts in Ethiopian highlands. We see increase in rainfall starting from March, and then the arrival of the full blown monsoon starting from April/May/June, depending on the season...



So at the top of the Menat we have wind and moisture producing monsoon. 

This monsoon empties on Ethiopian highlands during the ostrich mating season. The rain water accumulates in the catchment area of the Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia, and it flows out as Blue Nile...


It then flows down towards Egypt as the Great Flood...

I think that the circular bit at the bottom represents the Great Flood. The circle is the summer sun which fills the Nile with water...

What is interesting is what is depicted inside the circle:

A strange looking fish with a huge dorsal fin, swimming at the bottom of the river or lake, near a flowering papyrus marsh. 



The strange fish is not just a bad fish doodle. It is a very precise depiction of a  Labeobarbus bynni, the Niger barb, Nile barb, a relatively large fish, up to 82 cm in total length and with a distinctive top fin. It is found all over the Nile river. 



This was one of three main fish species caught and eaten by Ancient Egyptians, together with Nile perch and Nile tilapia.

This fish was not chosen randomly. The Nile barb spawning (mating) season is March-April, right at the time when the first rains start falling in Ethiopian highlands. And flowering papyrus? 

So why was papyrus so important? As I explained in my post "Holy Cow" the main papyrus flowering season is April...Right at the time when Nile Barb spawns (swims along the bottom burying eggs into the gravel)



Another interesting detail on this Manet is the "squatting figure of the ram-headed sun god" (according to the official description) figure just above the circular part. 


The description alludes at Amun. The god of wind and the creator god. Following Amun's ascendancy during the New Kingdom, he was hailed as "The Self-created One" and "King of the Gods" who had created all things, including himself. But I don't think this is Amun. Before there was Amun, there was another ram headed god. Another creator god who created everything including other gods. Khnum


He was one of the oldest Egyptian deities. And guess what: he was venerated as the god of the source of the Nile 🙂 Is this cool or what? I talked about this good in my post "Khnum" and there I explained why he was depicted as a "ram" (???) headed deity. 

The horizontally twisted horns show that we are dealing with a ram of the species "ovis longipes palaeoaegyptiacus".


This was the earliest type to be domesticated in Egypt, but became extinct sometime in the New Kingdom. Nevertheless, the shape of the horns was preserved even in later depictions of Khnum. Now here is the interesting bit. We have no idea what this "ovis longipes palaeoaegyptiacus" was or whether it was even a sheep or a goat. Regardless, the only two potential candidates, for the place of the "ovis longipes palaeoaegyptiacus" both have their young during April. The time when the first rains, represented by Tefnut and Shu, arrive to Ethiopian highlands. Right when papyrus flowers and right when Nile barb spawns...

Tefnut and Shu, the creators of all life...


Interesting artefact indeed 🙂

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