Statuette of Maat - 969.137.3_2


Statuette of Maat

Medium:Cast bronze
Geography: Excavated at Saqqara, Egypt
Period: Undetermined Period
6 × 1.1 × 1.8 cm
Object number: 969.137.3
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt
Description The goddess Maat is usually shown, as here, in the form of a woman, often squatting, wearing an ostrich feather in her hair. Maat embodies the concepts of the orderliness of the universe, of justice, and of truth.  It was the king’s most important duty to uphold truth and justice, and to offer Maat, often in the form of a small statuette such as this one, to the gods. Tomb biographies often stress that the deceased was a man who ‘did Maat’ by feeding the hungry, giving clothes to the naked, assisting the poor and the bereaved and keeping the balance of nature by not over-hunting or fishing.  At the Judgement of the Dead, each human heart was weighed against the feather of Maat; what was required was for the heart to balance with the feather as a sign that one has lived a balanced life, in harmony with society.


Despite her great importance to Ancient Egypt, Maat had few temples of her own, and little mythology.  She was sometimes seen as the first daughter of Atum, the Creator, and as such is present at the very beginning of Creation. She existed before air or moisture, earth or sky.  Sometimes she was considered to be the wife of the god of writing, Djehuty (Thoth), more often she seems to be alone, the daughter of Re, sister of the king, but not a wife or mother. Images of Maat are common in royal tombs, stressing her close association with the king.
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