Who was Mafdet?
Mafdet was the Egyptian lion god of the goddess of justice, judgment and execution. Egyptian gods and goddesses closely resembled the appearance of humans, but many of their gods, such as Mafdet were also perceived as 'human hybrids' depicted with human bodies with the heads of animals. These symbols were used as a recognition aid and a device to visually convey the powers, identity and attributes of the deity. Mafdet is depicted with the head of a lioness with a crown of snakes.
Facts about Mafdet
The following facts and profile provides a fast overview of Mafdet:
Mafdet Profile & Fact File
Egyptian Name: Mafdet. Alternative Names: Maftet or Mefdet
Role & Function: The function of Mafdet is described as being the goddess of justice, judgment and execution
Status: Mafdet was the first of the ancient Egyptian cat goddesses and lion gods
Symbols: Big cats, snakes, executioner's staff and the blade of execution
Titles: The "Lady of the Castle of Life", "Slayer of serpents", "She who runs swiftly", "Avenger of the King" and the "Great Cat"
Mafdet was also depicted as a wild cat, possibly a caracal a desert lynx, prowling up the side of an executioner's rod to which a flint knife, called a Khop, projects. A symbolic representation of an instrument of punishment’. Her name in hieroglyphics:
Mafdet in Egyptian Mythology - The War Goddess
Mafdet, the Egyptian cat goddess of justice, judgment and execution, featured in the stories, myths and legends in Egyptian Mythology. Depicted with the head of a lioness with a headdress of snakes she was revered for giving protection against snakes, scorpions and other dangerous animals. The name of Mafdet was therefore invoked in rituals of those afflicted by the deadly venoms. Mafdet was also worshipped as the warrior goddess of sunset, destruction, death, rebirth and wisdom. In the Old Kingdom (2686 BC - 2181 BC), Mafdet was depicted as the protector of the Sun god Ra whose weaknesses included snakebites and scorpion stings. Mafdet was described in the ancient Pyramid Texts as killing a serpent with her claws. The scratch of her claws was lethal to snakes and such reptiles were rampant in the Underworld (Duat). Her claws were therefore symbolically presented as the barbs of the king's harpoon he used as a weapon as he sailed through the dangerous waters of the Underworld before reaching the afterlife. Mafdet was closely associated with the Underworld and was seen as the protector of the pharaoh, his burial chambers, his tomb and his funeral bier.
Mafdet and the Funeral Bier
A bier is movable frame on which a coffin, or a corpse, is placed before burial and carried to the grave. In addition too her link with the pharaohs Mafdet, and other Lion headed gods and goddesses, were believed to guard certain halls and gates in the Underworld. Lion gods are therefore strongly associated with the dead and the Underworld (Duat). The heads of many biers bore the head of a lion or lioness and the foot of funeral biers were often ornamented with a cat's tail. The following picture is believed to be the head of Mafdet as depicted on the funeral bier of an ancient Egyptian called Sennedjem. Sennedjem was an artisan who worked upon the tombs built in the Valley of the Kings.
Mafdet - The First Cat Goddess
Mafdet was the earliest recorded cat goddess. Other cat goddesses followed including Tefnut, Wadjet, Bastet, Menhit and Sekhmet. Many of their ancient gods, including Mafdet, were subsumed (meaning absorbed) into new gods and goddesses. The practice of creating new deities by combining them with old gods is called 'syncretism', meaning the fusion of religious beliefs and practices to form a new system. As Thebes rose to great prominence in ancient Egypt, the Theban triad of gods became a powerful political and religious force and the Goddess Mut absorbed aspects of other goddesses and was merged with Wadjet, Bast, Menhit and Mafdet, who were all the warrior lioness goddesses. The power of Mafdet was at lasted abated - she was completely merged with Mut.
Offerings to Mafdet
The following picture shows a temple scene in which a cat goddess is being worshipped. The lotus flower, features strongly in the picture, as does the incense burner. Incense offerings were made on a daily basis and scent played such an important part in temples, daily life and magical rituals. Only priests, priestesses and royalty were allowed inside temples. Ordinary Egyptians worshipped and made offerings at small shrines in their homes. A statue of the goddess Mafdet might have been placed on the altar table and ancient Egyptians prayed and gave offerings to the god whilst kneeling on a reed mat.
Facts about Mafdet in Egyptian Mythology
Discover interesting information and research facts about Mafdet, the Egyptian sun goddess of war. The facts about Mafdet provides a list detailing fascinating additional info to increase your knowledge about Mafdet in Egyptian Mythology.
History, Mythology and Facts about Mafdet
Fact 1: Mafdet became popularity started during the First Dynasty of the Old Kingdom
Fact 2: Leontopolis was famous as the cult center of the lion gods and cat goddesses.
Fact 3: Mafdet was revered as a protector of royalty
Fact 4: In New Kingdom tomb scenes she was shown as executioner of evil creatures in the afterlife.
Fact 5: Mafdet was also known to protect against scorpion stings and snakebites and was viewed as a mediator in healing rituals for those who were afflicted by such injuries
Fact 6: Mafdet was believed to ripped out the hearts of wrong-doers, delivering them to the pharaoh's feet and was seen to protect the Pharaoh against rebellion
Fact 7: In the period of the New Kingdom Mafdet was often identified with the goddess Mut, the consort of Amun, and was eventually 'absorbed' by the goddess
Fact 8: The protection of Mafdet was invoked in an Ancient Egyptian spell which repelled snakes:
"O cobra, I am the flame which shines on the brows of the Chaos-gods of the Standard of Years. Begone from me, for I am Mafdet!"
Fact 9: Mafdet is a breed of Siamese cats