Hathor: The Goddess of Love, Beauty, Music, Dancing, Fertility, and Pleasure… and The Votive Tunic!

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Hathor might be the only supernatural being I wish to have as God”dess”. She indeed had everything good in herself to give to the subservient like us!

I once posted about this fantastic goddess, but now it’s about a dedicated mysterious votive tunic to her!

Egyptian Hand Painted Papyrus with Winged Maat & Hathor. (with Author Signed)

Often described as a child’s tunic because of its small size, this garment probably had a more sacred function. It is dedicated to Hathor, who is depicted in the shape of a cow and described as ‘Hathor foremost of Thebes, Lady of Heaven, Mistress of the gods’ in hieroglyphs above the animal. Such tunics would have been offered to the goddess, possibly to invoke protection for a child or a woman during labour. Liana Miate

Images credits: atlasobscura.com / Amino Apps

And her breathtaking temple shows with no wonder in recognition of her greatness, though the assumption that she and Isis are the same goddess and attribute both to each other isn’t the case! Hathor is the personification of the principles of love, joy and motherhood, and was the goddess of music, dance, fertility, and aided women in childbirth. Isis is revered as the underworld’s queen and the transformation goddess. She possesses the powers of a water goddess, an earth goddess, and a star goddess, the patron of nature, magic and divination. She’s known as a friend of slaves, sinners, artisans, and the downtrodden. She hears the prayers of all; none are forgotten or overlooked.

Egyptian votive tunic. Probably from the 19th Dynasty, about 1275 BCE. Possibly from Deir-el-Bahari, Thebes. The British Museum (photo taken at The Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, Australia)

Marie Grillot gives a brilliant description of this marvellous papyrus work and its beauty here. 🙏💖

A Votive Tunic Dedicated to Hathor

via https://egyptophile.blogspot.com/

Votive tunic with the painted representation of the goddess Hathor – linen – 19th Dynasty (c. 1275 BC)
origin: Deir el-Bahari – British Museum – EA4307
by acquisition, in 1906 from the Reverend Chauncey Murch – photo © The Trustees of the British Museum

This linen tunic, with a straight cut and an open round neckline, is dated to the 19th Dynasty (around 1275 BC). Besides its lack of a sleeve, it seems relatively well preserved, considering it’s more than 3000 years!

It owes its originality to the scene painted on the front, which stands out discreetly against a white background that has now partially disappeared…

It represents the goddess Hathor, in her cow form, emerging from the western mountain of Thebes, whose sides, behind her, are symbolized by red dots, just like the ground she treads with her paws.

With a thin line of red paint, the artist has traced the outline of the bovine silhouette and has, in the same way, enhanced the main characteristics that animate its light ocher coat…

Advancing towards the rising sun, she is wearing two large feathers with the solar disk at their base. The whole is surrounded by its high horns painted blue.

Votive tunic with the painted representation of the goddess Hathor – linen – 19th Dynasty (c. 1275 BC)
origin: Deir el-Bahari – British Museum – EA43071
by acquisition, in 1906 from the Reverend Chauncey Murch – photo © The Trustees of the British Museum

Her ears are so beautifully rendered, her black eye stretched with a line of makeup, her muzzle that we imagine vibrant, her long tail, her white hooves, everything contributes to giving her life…

Around her neck hangs a sistrum, one of the main attributes of the goddess… This rattling instrument is adorned with magical virtues: it can appease the gods, ward off evil spirits and attract protection. It is related to this representation of Hathor because it was supposed to reproduce the noise she makes when, in her cow form, she walks through the thickets of papyrus.

Hathor, the goddess of love, joy, beauty, and music, is here assimilated to the West’s summit. It is on the slopes of the beautiful mountain of Thebes that the necropolises are, and thus, symbolically, she receives the dead there… “In the Theban religion, Hathor, who is in the western mountain, becomes a funerary goddess; she then receives the deceased, who has become her child, into the mystical lap of the mountain tomb. She helps him to be reborn as, as Isis-Hathor, she watched over Horus in the papyrus swamp of Khemmis …” (Fernand Schwarz).

Also, the tunic is painted in black, with hieroglyphic inscriptions. “The first line of the inscription in the lower part gives the title’ mistress of the house and the name (unfortunately unclear but ending in ‘-Imentet’) of the woman who dedicated this tunic; the second line repeats the name and epithets of Hathor”.

To better “interpret” this garment, it is important to mention its dimensions: its height of 34.30 cm and width of 25.50 cm. These measurements could mean that it was intended for a child… but the interpretation can also be decidedly “religious”. Thus Nigel Strudwick (Masterpieces of Ancient Egypt) believes that: “it is more likely that it was specially made as a votive offering to the goddess. Many types of votive objects were placed in temples throughout Egypt as gifts expressing devotion to deities, which it was hoped would, in turn, favour the giver. This textile and other similar textiles may have been donated by women to worship, perhaps accompanying specific prayers for children or successful childbirth. However, none of the inscriptions refers to it. Another suggestion is that tunics may have been used to clothe divine images; there is evidence from the titles of the people named therein that only those connected with the cult of Hathor exhibited such garments. They presumably had to be carefully stored in temples to maintain and protect the decoration and effectiveness of the object”.

Votive tunic with the painted representation of the goddess Hathor – linen – 19th Dynasty (c. 1275 BC)
provenance: Deir el-Bahari – British Museum – EA43071 – by acquisition in 1906 from the Reverend Chauncey Murch – photo © The Trustees of the British Museum

On the other hand, in “Clothing (non-royal), Pharaonic Egypt”, Aleksandra Hallmann indicates that: “Generally, the tunics encountered in the archaeological record are sleeveless, since sleeves have been found as separate garments…The Known exceptions of tunics with sleeves already attached are certain votive tunics for Hathor”.

The origin indicated for this tunic is Deir el-Bahari – Thebes. Indeed, if Ta Set Neferou (the Valley of the Queens with its sacred cave) and “Set Maât her imenty Ouaset” (the craftsmen’s village with its temple) were places of worship in Hathor, they were not the only ones … Thus, in “The Bel Occident of Thebes, Imentet Neferet”, Christian Leblanc recalls that: “It was under the reign of Mentuhotep II that, for the first time, the Belle Fête de la Vallée was celebrated on the left bank. , whose itinerary was modified over time. We know that on this occasion, the god Amon of Karnak went, in procession, to the West of the city, for a certain number of days to honour the dead there and to meet Hathor there. It also mentions the existence of a “Temple of the Cow”, which was: “Perhaps a late appellation of the temple of Queen Hatshepsut at Deir al-Bahari, where there is a Hathoric sanctuary, or the sanctuary of Hathor him -same”…

It should also be remembered that, during excavations carried out in the temple of Thutmose III for the Egypt Exploration Fund, Edouard Naville discovered, on February 7, 1906, the magnificent chapel of the sacred cow of Hathor. Dug into the rock to a depth of four meters, made of painted sandstone, it represents Hathor protecting the pharaoh Amenhotep II standing under her head. At the same time, from her udder, she “suckles a young boy, who is obviously Amenhotep II, the son of Thothmes III”, specifies Gaston Maspero. On the orders of the latter, it was patiently dismantled by Emile Baraize to be transported to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo (JE 38574 – JE 3857), where it will be reassembled, identically, by Alexandre Barsanti.

Chapel of the Sacred Cow of Hathor – painted sandstone – New Kingdom – 18th Dynasty
Provenance: Temple of Thutmose III at Deir el-Bahari, discovered on February 7, 1906
by Edouard Naville during excavations of the EEF – Egyptian Museum in Cairo – JE 38574 – JE 38575

The excavations will also deliver “a certain number of fabrics and other votive textiles (as well as many other votive objects) linked to the later cult of Hathor, practised there at least from the New Kingdom”, specifies the British Museum, which has acquired several objects from these excavations.

However, this is not the case for this tunic he acquired from the Reverend Chauncey Murch, a member of the American Presbyterian Mission in Luxor. The purchase occurred in 1906 (EA43071); the Museum does not exclude the possibility that “this tunic could have been discovered during a contemporary clandestine excavation carried out on the same site”…

Marie Grillot

Sources:

Miniature linen tunic; painted representation of the Hathor cow and Hieroglyphic text

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/Y_EA43071

Nigel Strudwick, Masterpieces of Ancient Egypt, London 2006, pp. 208-9

G. Pinch, Votive offerings to Hathor (Oxford 1993)

https://www.academia.edu/3645492/_Votive_Practices_with_Geraldine_Pinch_

Fernand Schwarz, La grotte sacrée, Pharaon n°4, magazine

http://fernand.schwarz.free.fr/IMG/pdf/Ph4_grotte_sacree_FS.pdf

Christian Leblanc, Angelo Sesana, Le Bel Occident de Thèbes, Imentet Neferet, L’Harmattan, 2022

Gaston Maspero, Essais sur l’art égyptien, (1912?)

https://archive.org/details/essaissurlartg00maspuoft

Foucart Georges. Note de M. Naville sur ses découvertes à Deir el Bahari (Égypte). In: Comptes rendus des séances de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 50e année, N. 2, 1906. p. 110;

https://www.persee.fr/doc/crai_0065-0536_1906_num_50_2_71782

Statue de la déesse Hathor sous l’apparence d’une vache et chapelle

http://www.globalegyptianmuseum.org/record.aspx?id=15118

http://www.globalegyptianmuseum.org/record.aspx?id=15654

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11 thoughts on “Hathor: The Goddess of Love, Beauty, Music, Dancing, Fertility, and Pleasure… and The Votive Tunic!

  1. This is another brilliant Egyptian themed post! Thank you Aladin for sharing it with us. I love the fine and symbolic details that Marie writes about the tunic and what wonderful photos too.

    I feel like I need to explore Hathor more since I’ve just read that she was known as the “Mistress of Life” and “Lady of the Stars” both beautiful and powerful names! Love and light, Deborah.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. elainemansfield

    Thank you, Aladin. I’m a Hathor lover after studying the Egyptian Goddesses. I love the tomb images in this piece. I’d never heard of this tunic.

    I experienced the providing and nurturing energy of the cow when I was a child. My grandpa put me on the cow’s back while he milked her. She was so gentle and patient and my grandpa and I stroked her while he collected the milk. (I won’t be sharing on Twitter because I’m taking a Twitter break until I see what happens next at that site. I haven’t canceled my account, but that may be coming soon. So far I’m sticking with Facebook.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, dear Elaine. Actually, as you’re talking about your memories with the cow, I just thought how interestingly is that in India, cows are hallowed! 😊 however, I understand your attitude and intention towards Twitter. Thank you 💖🤗

      Liked by 1 person

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