This amazing bronze counterpoise was worn by priestesses who worshipped Hathor. It was worn between the shoulder blades to balance the heavy menat necklace. Such necklaces were also worn by the priestesses in Abydos, when they performed their sacred rituals in the Temple of Seti I. The mass of intricate beads were shaken to produce a mystical sound during their dances, calling the goddess to the temple. This menat is full of symbolic meaning and represents Hathor in her three manifestations: as mortal woman wearing a cobra crown; as a sistrum object with magical powers; and then as the nurturing symbol of the cow.

The name of King Amenhotep III is written in a cartouche below her wig (throne name Nebmaatre) and Hathor’s epithet ‘Mistress of the Sycamore Fig.’ The sistrum figure stands on the hieroglyph for gold, a reference to Hathor’s persona as ‘the Golden One.’ In the lower part she is the primeval bovine mother, wearing the solar disc between her horns, and sailing through the Delta in a papyrus boat. 

18th Dynasty, time of Amenhotep III. (1390 BC-1352 BC) Found in Luxor, now in British Museum.

Mistress of the Temple, Mistress of the Sycamore Fig.


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