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Tefnut in hieroglyphics
Old empire


New kingdom

S3 X1

Tefnut / Tefnet
The Orphan
Nicknamed the
Middle Kingdom

Die Ewigkeit der Duat
(The time in which Re dwells in the Duat)
BD Weighing of the Heart - Tefnut.jpg

Tefnut (also Tefnet ; further nicknames: "Nubian cat", "truth" ) is an ancient Egyptian goddess who is one of the nine creator deities of the Heliopolitan cosmogony ( Enneade of Heliopolis ). It symbolized the fire. Earlier assumptions that Tefnut represented moisture have now been rejected in Egyptology .


In the pyramid texts , the epithet The Truth is used for Tefnut in connection with the ascension of the sky from the King ( Pharaoh ) next to her name The Orphan . In addition, the king sees himself as Osiris , who embodies the water:

"Oh Geb , bull of heaven, I am Horus ... I went and returned, as the fourth god of the four gods who brought the water. I am justified for what I did. I am Tefen ( orphan ) who judged the two truths with Tefnut , although there were no witnesses. The two truths commanded that the thrones of Geb return to me so that I may arise as I have wished. "

- Pyramid text 260

In the coffin texts of the Middle Kingdom , reference is made to the epithet of Tefnut, whereby the theological concept of creation is based on the pyramid texts: Atum said : Tefnut is my living daughter, she is together with her brother Schu . "Life" is his name, "Truth" is her name ... "Life" sleeps with my daughter "Truth" .


Together with her brother, the air god Schu , she was the first to emerge from the body of the creator deity Atum , and thus bisexuality arose. There is another version about the ancestry of Tefnut, in which she and Schu are children of Isis and were born in Chemmis . In the planetary chapter of the Nutbuch , the birth of Tefnut is described in connection with the birth of Horus :

“The youth in the groove , he went away with his hands. Thus both of his hands became a vulva with both of his arms around them. Atum to speak: “This what came out of my lips, what I spat into my hand, which was a vulva, that is this. Schu and Tefnut. Ka and Kat ”. So Isis and Nephthys held out their hands to Horus to receive him when Isis gave birth to him and he came out of her body. "

- Nutbuch planetary chapter, lines x + 95 to x + 98

In addition to the mythological idea that Atum produced the gods Schu and Tefnut through masturbation , the Nutbuch describes a different version of creation. Tefnut is defined as a kat and thus a vulva . The explanations of the Nutbuch allude to the pyramid texts , where Atum puts his arms in the form of the hieroglyph Ka around Schu and Tefnut in order to inspire both . While the Ka in Atum is still bisexual, Atum separates the Ka into the male ( Ka ) and female ( Kat ) principle through this creation process . The reference to the birth of Horus points to Haroeris as a cosmic Horus . His left eye of Horus symbolizes the moon and Tefnut; the right eye of Horus the sun and Sho. Due to other statements in the pyramid texts, Atum is probably an equation with the cosmic Horus as Haroeris, who is often also named as the 10th god of the Ninth of Heliopolis .


Schu and Tefnut formed the couple that created the gods: they are considered the parents of the earth god Geb and the sky goddess Nut . Wherever Tefnut is mentioned, this happens together with Schu, they are the twins par excellence. Tefnut is also not described as a lioness, but as a Nubian cat. But when anger grabs her, she turns again and again into a “wild lioness”. Tefnut is the uraeus snake , which also acts as the sun's eye . In the myth The Homecoming of the Goddess it says:

“The celebration went away with you, the drunkenness disappeared and was not found. There is a serious quarrel all over Egypt. Re's ballroom is frozen, Atum's pump room is depressed. They all went away with you and hid from Egypt. One is in serenity among the Nubians. "

- The Homecoming of the Goddess, Demotic Papyrus

The lioness's unbridled lust for battle now discharges in her power as Re's forehead serpent. The Harris papyrus says: "When Re crosses the sky every morning, Tefnut rests on his head and sends her breath of fire against his enemies". The double-sidedness of her nature is expressed on an inscription in Philae : "As a Sekhmet she is angry, as a Bastet she is happy". Both Sachmet, the grim lioness, and Bastet, the cheerful cat, are united in Tefnut. After the later merging of the gods Atum and Re to "Atum-Re", Schu and Tefnut were also children of Re.


Tefnut was depicted in human form with a lion's head or, in its main place of worship, Leontopolis (lion city), as a lion. She wears a solar disk on her head, which is surrounded by two snakes. This is why Tefnut is also known as "mistress of the serpent" or "forehead serpent on the head of all gods". In Buto she is known as the flamingo-shaped "child of the lower Egyptian king", in Elkab she appears in the form of a vulture.

See also


Web links

Commons : Tefnut  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Pyramid Text 260, Proverbs 317: The orphan .
  2. Christian Leitz u. a .: LGG, vol. 1 . P. 405.
  3. Christian Leitz u. a .: LGG, vol. 1 . P. 582.
  4. Jan Assmann: Death and the afterlife in ancient Egypt . Munich 2001, p. 30; Susanne Bickel: La cosmogonie Egyptienne . Göttingen 1994, p. 169; Alexandra von Lieven: Floor plan of the course of the stars. The so-called groove book . Copenhagen 2007, pp. 192-194.
  5. X1
  6. Alexandra von Lieven: Plan of the course of the stars. The so-called groove book . Copenhagen 2007, pp. 109-110.
  7. PT 1653 and PT 2065.
  8. n / a
  9. Alexandra von Lieven: Plan of the course of the stars. The so-called groove book . Copenhagen 2007, pp. 192-193.
  10. Alexandra von Lieven: Plan of the course of the stars. The so-called groove book . Copenhagen 2007, p. 194.