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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Goddess Sekhmet

Head and upper body of the goddess Sekhmet, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow.

Goddess Sekhmet

This head and upper body of the goddess Sekhmet was created in Egypt during the reign of Amenhotep III, 1390-1352 BCE. In Egyptian mythology, Sekhmet is a warrior goddess as well as the goddess of healing. She is depicted as a lioness, the fiercest hunter. It was believed that Sekhmet’s breath formed the desert and that her breathing is the hot desert wind. She was seen as the protector of the pharaohs and led them in warfare. Sekhmet is also a solar deity, sometimes called the daughter of Ra and often her monuments bear the Solar disk.

Sekhmet

Sekhmet was depicted in art as a fierce lioness or as a woman with the head of a lioness, who was dressed in red, the colour of blood. Sometimes the dress she wears exhibits a rosetta pattern over each breast, an ancient motif, which can be traced to the shoulder-knot hairs on lions. Occasionally, Sekhmet was also portrayed in her statuettes and engravings with minimal clothing or naked.

Festivals were celebrated, to pacify Sekhmetat the end of the battle, so that the destruction would come to an end. During an annual festival held at the beginning of the year, a celebration of intoxication, the Egyptians danced and played music to soothe the wildness of the goddess. They drank excessive quantities of wine in a ritual to imitate the extreme drunkenness that stopped the wrath of the goddess when she almost destroyed humanity.

What to know about Sekhmet?

  • What goddess is Sekhmet?
    • Goddess of retribution, vengeance, conquest and war.
  • What does Sekhmet mean?
    • Sekhmet’s name comes from the Ancient Egyptian word which means “power or might”.
  • Does Sekhmet have any other names or titles?
    • “One Before Whom Evil Trembles”, “Mistress of Dread”, “Lady of Slaughter” and “She Who Mauls”.
  • What animal is Sekhmet?
    • She is depicted as a lioness, the fiercest hunter known to the Egyptians.
  • Why was Sekhmet important?
    • She was seen as the protector of the pharaohs and led them in warfare.
  • Where were Sekhmet’s major cult centres?
    • Memphis and Leontopolis
  • What are Sekhmet’s primary Symbols?
    • Sun disk, red linen and lioness

Goddess Sekhmet, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow.

The fierce lioness goddess Sekhmet is the daughter of the sun god Ra. She wears the sun as a headdress, protected by a spitting cobra.

Reflections

  • Why was she the protector of the pharaohs and led them in warfare?

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Goddess Sekhmet

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“A day to come seems longer than a year that’s gone.”
– Scottish Proverb

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Photo Credit: 1)By Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 2) By Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons:  

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