Statuette of Sekhmet - ROM2016_15146_34


Statuette of Sekhmet

Medium:Bronze, solid cast
Geography: Undetermined site, Egypt
Date: c. 664-332 BC
Period: Probably 26th-30th Dynasty, Late Period
20 x 4 x 7 cm
Object number: 910.17.23
Not on view
Description Sekhmet, whose name means ‘the powerful’ was the most important of many lion-headed goddesses in Ancient Egypt.  Her personality was two-sided: both protective and motherly like any female cat, and ferocious and destructive. In her gentle aspect, she was a goddess of healing, and patroness of doctors.  In her fierce aspect, she accompanied the king into battle.  Her hot breath could be the wind of the desert, or the cause of plague and pestilence. Sekhmet was usually paired with Ptah and Nefertum in the triad of Memphis. Amulets and statues of the goddess were very popular. 

 This statuette shows the goddess with the body of a slender and shapely woman, and the head of a lion.  Her iconography always includes a ruff and mane, even though lionesses do not possess this feature.  The sun-disk on her head associates her with the god, Re, whose daughter she is considered.  She is one of the many goddesses who can feature in retellings of the story of the Distant Goddess who leaves Egypt in disgust to live as a wild animal in the Nubian deserts, and who must be coaxed into returning to Egypt in order that love and laughter, music and merriment, can once again be in the land.

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