Hippopotamus Egyptian God (2024)

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10 Facts About The Hippopotamus in Ancient Egypt

The Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius), popularly known as the water horse or hippo, is an aquatic mammal native to Africa. The hippopotamus is comparable in size and weight to the white rhinoceros. Also, the Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) the largest terrestrial animal (after the elephant). Greek meaning “river horse,” hippopotamus is a name for an animal that has been around for a very long time. In the vicinity of grasslands, hippopotamuses are frequently spotted lazing on the sides of rivers, lakes, and marshes or dozing in their watery depths. They are protected from most predators because of their enormous size. On the other hand, its lifestyle in the water. Here we reveal the Myth of the Hippopotamus Egyptian God and why Egyptian worshipped it and call it Taweret.

Ancient Egypt Hippopotamus

The sharp separation maintained between the sexes by the ancient Egyptians reflects their cautious attitude towards hippopotami. Hippos are the deadliest large land mammal in current times, killing an estimated 500 humans annually in Africa. In fact, this gave the ancient Egyptians good cause to fear them.

Male Hippopotamus In Ancient Egypt

Because of this, the male hippopotamus was considered a nuisance and an embodiment of destructive might by the ancient Egyptians. So, even in the prehistoric era, hippopotamus hunts were organized to safeguard crops and, as a bonus, to offer an ivory supply. This hunt was portrayed in a tomb scene motif that gained popularity in the Old Kingdom (about 2649–2130 BCE) and persisted throughout the New Kingdom (around 1550–107 BCE) (Figure 1). For the ancient Egyptians who observed this event, it represented both a physical and a spiritual hunt. The spiritual aspect, also known as Isfet, had to do with the victory of good over disorder.

Hippo in Egyptian Mythology

The world of wild creatures, which the ancient Egyptians frequently encountered but couldn’t contain, including the hippo. The hippopotamus has been associated with the god Seth, the assassination of the god Osiris. Later The Hippoptomus was a malevolent figure who was vanquished by Horus, the son of Osiris. Since the New Kingdom this Myth was known by all Egyptians. At the Temple of Edfu, depictions of Horus, the personification of earthly monarchy, can be seen harpooning and chaining Seth while he is disguised as a hippopotamus.

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The ancient Egyptians may have been influenced by this hunt to develop a ceremonial. These cermonies which kings would ritually slaughter a hippo as yet another representation of chaos and Seth being overthrown. A gilded statue depicting Tutankhamun standing on a wooden papyrus boat while holding a spear and a bronze coil chain in each hand was discovered in his tomb. This theme was still well-established in the New Kingdom.

Reasons to Worship The Female Hippopotamus Egyptian God

The creatures that lived all around the ancient Egyptians had a special place in their hearts. This is reflected in their gods and goddesses in the interesting way that their religion combined people and animals. Many creatures were both feared and revered. Pets included certain animals like dogs and cats. Some pets received such loving care that they were practically mummified. So why they worshiped it? and How is Goddess Taweret?

1- Hippo Shape

The hippo’s unusual shape leaves one feeling both impressed and in awe. They may not be classically attractive, but they possess a strength and power that is amazing to witness. It is understandable why they have achieved such greatness in Egypt’s past.

2- Fear of the Hippo In Ancient Days

The hippo was one animal that the ancient Egyptians revered as a goddess, but it was also the animal that people feared the most—and for good reason! Hippos are huge, and their teeth and jaws are strong crushing tools that may easily break a person’s bones.

3- Nature of the Hippo

Hippos can remain submerged for a while, which proved devastating for fishermen and boaters because it was impossible to predict when and where a large hippo would surface. People were frequently hurt by these enormous yet noble beasts, and hippopotamuses had the power to flip a boat as it rose out of the water. Did you know that hippos can sprint as quickly as people? Hippos also enjoyed trampling farmers’ fields and eating newly harvested wheat harvests. So, who was Taweret Goddess ?

Goddess Taweret The Female Hippopotamus

The Great Female, also known as Taweret (Taueret, Taurt, Toeris, Ipy, Ipet, Apet, Opet, Reret), was a goddess of childbirth and maternity in ancient Egypt who also served as a protector of women and children. Like Bes, she was a popular divinity who protected the mother and her unborn child as well as a powerful demonic combatant.

She was shown as a cross between a crocodile, a hippopotamus standing on its hind legs, and a lion, with huge breasts. Taweret had a hippopotamus’s head and body, a lion’s paws, and a crocodile’s back, in contrast to the composite demoness Ammut. She was a demon since each of these creatures was a man-eater. They were all thought to be ferocious beasts that would kill to defend their offspring.

Hippopotamus Protector of Children and Shephard of Fertility

She was regarded as a goddess because of her guardian role. Taweret was said to be protective of Egyptian children, just as a mother hippo is of her young. She frequently appeared carrying either the ankh hieroglyph of life or the sa hieroglyph of protection. She was believed to aid women in giving birth and frighten away demons that could harm the mother or infant.

Egyptians also viewed hippos as representations of rebirth and regeneration since they live in the rich mud of the Nile. The complex form of the goddess Taweret, who guards mothers during childbirth, is another manifestation of the birth-related component of the hippo’s abilities.

Taweret was a fertility goddess, as well. She was a goddess who supported female sexuality and pregnancy in addition to being a goddess of harvests. On the other hand, Tawewt was associated with the goddess Hathor in this capacity. She was strongly linked to the flooding of the Nile, particularly at Jabal al-Silsila, as a fertility goddess.

Were there hippos in Ancient Egypt?

Hippos in herds posed a persistent menace to the fields of farmers in ancient Egypt. Hippopotamus were chased by the first pharaohs in the marshes, and they were eventually driven all the way south into Upper Egypt. Hippos came to be connected with the disorder, and the pursuit of hippos began to symbolize how the Egyptian pharaohs could subdue evil.

Egyptian Blue Hippo Meaning in the Ancient Days

For the ancient Egyptians, blue held a particular place in their hearts. Of course, real Hippopotamus Egyptian Gods were not blue; instead, they tend to be grey or brown. Hippos lived in the Nile River, which was blue. The Nile served as the Egyptians’ primary source of food, therefore among other things, this vivid blue represented life.

Why Was The Hippo Hunted In Ancient Egypt

Animals like hippopotamus are unpredictable and strong when confronted, but can be deadly. For their tusks, teeth, meat, skin, and fat, they were hunted.

Ivory from hippopotami was carved into reliefs or statues as well as thin sheets used as inlays or veneer. It is made from the tusks of both elephants and hippopotamiand is a dense, fine-grained material. In ancient Egypt, tusks from both elephants and hippos were traded. Hippos were revered greatly in ancient Egypt as well.

Hunting hippopotami was done with different weapons as well as spears and harpoons with bronze tips. Short spears, axes, swords, khopesh (a weapon that looked like a sickle and a scimitar combined), bows, and arrows were also available.

Hunting Hippos in Ancient Egypt

For a variety of reasons, the ancient Egyptians hunted hippos. The Egyptians used to eat the hippopotami’s meat, used its skin, and fat in addition to its remarkable tusk-line canines, which may grow up to one and a half feet long.

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Hippopotamus Hunting In the Predynastic Period

Hunts for hippos are shown to have started in the Predynastic Period (about 4400-3100 B.C.) (12.182.15) and continued for more than 3,000 years. The hunter is typically seen in such scenarios aboard a small boat, holding a harpoon in his backward-extended arm and about to release it (26.2.1). Egyptian harpoons had a wooden shaft and a metal or bone point that came apart when they struck the animal but stayed in its flesh.

It’s common to see a rope attached to this tip dangling from the harpoon. The hunter frequently holds a coil of multiple ropes in his other hand, which are already fastened to the hippo from earlier successful throws. In case the hippo sank and drifted away in the water, little floats were fastened to the ropes to mark its whereabouts. The hippo is typically depicted with its mouth open during hippo hunts. Hunters have the chance to kill the unfortunate animal where it is most vulnerable when a hippo is threatened and opens its mouth and bares its fangs to the threat.

Why Pharaohs Killed The Hippopotamus Egyptian God Taweret

The act of hunting and killing such a powerful animal was seen in early cultures as a demonstration of authority, strength, and courage—all qualities that were demanded of a leader. Therefore, it is not unexpected that images of the monarch himself hunting a hippopotamus may be seen in ancient Egypt starting around 3000 B.C. These images had significant symbolic significance because the hippopotamus also stood for chaos. The king’s successful hunt and death of the beast symbolized his ability to uphold global order, which was the mission of the Egyptian tyrant, as well as his victory against disorder. Hippos were probably caught and held alive to be used in ceremonies at a later date. The ruler would then perform a ritual “hunt” and kill the hippo, carrying out his kingly duties and displaying himself as the conqueror.

Hunting Hippo In The New Kingdom

The Hippopotamus has been related to the god Seth since the New Kingdom (about 1550–1070 B.C.). Seth was later viewed as a wicked figure. The mythological figurehead for a monarch was the god Horus, and in the story of Horus and Seth, Horus vanquishes Seth and takes the throne they had been fighting for. Around 100 B.C., ritual reenactments of this tale were documented on the Edfu Temple’s walls. In these images, Horus, who is frequently seen alongside the pharaoh, is seen harpooning Seth with a hippopotamus-shaped spear.

Hippopotamus Egyptian God Sculptures

The Hippopotamus was depicted in many different ways in ancient Egypt. In fact, The most well-known was undoubtedly the magnificent faience Hippopotamus. This was primarily known as grave goods and belonged to the Middle Kingdom Around a hundred of these faience hippos are still present in various collections today.

Unfortunately, it is uncertain what the precise archaeological context was for the vast majority of these sculptures. One of the hippos in the Metropolitan Museum is a priceless exception because it was discovered inside the wrappings of Reniseneb’s mummy.

Most faience hippos have many river flora adorning their bodies. The most prominent images are of lotus flowers, both closed and open, as well as leaves.

Numerous sculptures also include representations of other flora, including pondweed, and animals from the Nile, like frogs, butterflies, birds, and on occasion dragonflies. Interesting circular ornaments also appear. These might be stylized portrayals of flowers seen from above, but it has also been suggested that they might be representations of floats used in the hippo hunt.

The Faience Hippo

Through numerous layers, including the behavior of the animals themselves as well as the décor of these statuettes. The faience hippos were connected to the ideas of life, regeneration, and rebirth. They were believed to provide the departed with regeneration vitality and ensure his or her rebirth when they were buried in tombs. Many of these statuettes likely had their legs purposefully cut off in order to remove the animal’s destructive potential because the ancient Egyptians also dreaded these animals and thought that their representations could come to life through magic. Numerous interpretations have been made of the faience Hippopotamus Egyptian God.

They have also been suggested to serve as symbols of the hippo hunt, in addition to the interpretation that is supported here, namely that they ensured regeneration and rebirth. The latter is partially caused by the perception that the cross bands above their backs represent ropes. It is probable that they are intended to manage the animals’ dangerous nature rather than referring to the hippo hunt. These bands may indicate the ancient Egyptians’ conflicted feelings toward the hippo. This is similar to the shattered legs.

Are there hippos in Egypt Now?

Unfortunately, Egypt’s largest native mammal, the Hippopotamus has been utterly extinct since the early 19th century. The hippo has lived along the Nile River since prehistoric times. They were both greatly admired and dreaded, therefore their relationship with the ancient Egyptians was a little tentative. They posed a threat to boats sailing the river as well as those engaged in riverside employment due to their high degree of unpredictability. Being a very powerful mammal due to their sheer size (weighing up to 4 tonnes). Also, with these sharp teeth, big jaw, and speed, they can turn aggressive when challenged, especially while defending their young.

Conclusion about The Hippopotamus Egyptian God

The Hippopotamus was regarded positively by the ancient Egyptians as Goddess Taweret. Hippos were connected to life since they were found in the Nile River, the source of all life. They frequently disappear and resurface underwater for several minutes, then surface to breathe. This behavior was thought to represent regeneration and rebirth. Sometimes a hippo’s back is all that can be seen. This image of land covered by water may have reminded the Egyptians of the primordial mound at the start of creation. According to one Egyptian creation story, the sun rises for the first time on the primordial mound. Also, they believed that this mound emerged from the primordial flood. In a different telling of this tale, the sun god makes his first appearance. These observations made the Hippopotamus Egyptian Deity one of the most famous and they gave it the name Taweret.


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