Statuette of Nefertem - ROM2016_15146_33


Statuette of Nefertem

Medium:Bronze, solid cast
Geography: Undetermined site, Egypt
Date: c. 664-332 BC
Period: 26th-30th Dynasty, Late Period
18 x 3 x 5 cm
Object number: 910.17.12
Not on view

Nefertem is an ancient god whose name means ‘perfection.’  He represents the blue waterlily that rises in the early morning from the waters of the Nile Valley. The waterlily, rising from the dark waters, was associated with the sunrise, and the first appearance of the sun-god Re after he had arisen from the waters of chaos. Nefertem is usually shown, as here, as a man in a royal shendyt kilt, striding forward, with a tall crown made of a large stylized lily surmounted by two tall plumes.

Nefertem is the god of perfume and of good smells.  Spells 81A and 81B of the Book of the Dead assist the deceased in transforming into a blue waterlily and identifying with Nefertem. The day-blooming blue water lily has a wonderful fragrance which lingers even if the flowers are cut and dried. By identifying with him, the deceased shared his lovely scent which prevails over the odours of decay.

Although his paternity is never explicitly stated, in the triad of Memphis, Nefertem was usually shown as the child of Ptah, creator god of craftsmen, and the lioness goddess Sekhmet, who numbered war and medicine among her areas of responsibility. He could also be identified as the son of Wadjet, the Cobra-goddess of the Delta, or Bastet, the cat-headed goddess. 

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