Study Guide

Nefertem Sightings

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The Child in the Lotus

According to Egyptian myths, in the beginning, the infant Nefertem popped out of a lotus (really an Egyptian water lily, but it looks like a lotus) that was resting on the surface of the Nun: sort of like a pool or lake, but as big as the universe. As soon as Nefertem appeared, creation began. Nice timing!

Jan 1, 1970 - Dec 20, 2019

Here Comes the Sun

Sometimes Nefertem was called "Nefertem-Ra," and he was considered to be Ra as a little boy. Yep—a baby sun. Other times, he was just Ra's friend and brought Ra flowers and pretty things to heal and cheer him on his daily journey across the sky.

Jan 1, 1970 - Dec 20, 2019

Restrainer of the Two Lands

Nefertem wasn't always a softie or a baby. Sometimes he had a lion's head or was portrayed as a complete lion, and he went out to chew up Egypt's enemies. When he was shown as Egypt's defender, the ancient people called him Kehner-tawy, or "restrainer of the Two Lands."

Jan 1, 1970

Nefertem's Chapel

Inside the temple of Osiris at Abydos, Nefertem has his own beautiful chapel, covered in hieroglyphic texts. The texts are hymns to the god and his parents, Ptah and Sekhmet of Memphis.

Dec 20, 2019 - Dec 20, 2019

Gaining a Little Brother

During the Old Kingdom (Dynasty 3, ca. 2670BCE), a man named Imhotep worked for pharaoh Djoser. Long after his death, he was remembered as a famous and powerful magician, doctor, and architect—the most famous guy who ever lived in Memphis. Sometime during the New Kingdom, temples started to teach that Imhotep wasn't just a man. He was now a demigod, the adopted son of Ptah and Sekhmet, and Nefertem's half-brother.

Jan 1, 1970 - Jan 1, 1970

Another Cat for a Mom

Nefertem was the son of Bast in her northern city of Per-Bast (Bubastis). There, instead of Ptah and Sekhmet for parents, he had Tem for a father and Bast for a mother; and instead of Imhotep for a brother, Maahes the lion god from Nubia was his sibling. Whether these were changes in Nefertem's family back story or just the way Egypt's then-foreigner rulers interpreted things isn't clear. A little mystery never hurt anyone.

Jan 1, 1970 - Dec 20, 2019

Be My Good Luck Charm

Ancient Egyptians carried tiny statues of Nefertem as good luck charms and often had them mounted into necklaces and other jewelry. Nefertem surely approved of their good taste in accessories.

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