Nut, from “Amentet…”, by Knight, Alfred Ernest


Nut, the female counterpart of Nu (q.v.), was originally the goddess of the Night-sky, as Nu was the personification of the Day-sky, and the earliest forms of their names were Naut and Natj. At a later period, however, they became identified with Nut and Seb, Nut being regarded as the daughter of Shu and Tefnut, and Seb(Geb), the earth-god, as her husband. As the wife of Seb(Geb), she is called “Nut, the lady of heaven, who gave birth to the gods, the mistress of the Two Lands,” and as such was regarded rather as the goddess of the Day-sky than of the Night, the personification of the sky which rests upon the mountains of Sunrise and of Sunset. As such she gave birth to the sun-god every day, and at sunset received him into her mouth. In some texts, however, she is evidently the goddess of the heavens generally, thus retaining her original significance while absorbing the official attributes or functions of her ancient counterpart, Nu.
The chief centres of the worship of Nut appear to have been Dendera, Heliopolis, where grew the fabled turquoise-coloured sycamores of the goddess, and the Delta.
The temple of Isis at Dendera bears an inscription stating that it was the birth-chamber wherein Nut brought forth the goddess Isis in the form of a dark-skinned child.
“ The goddess is usually represented,” says Budge, “ in the form of a woman who bears upon her head a vase of water, which has the phonetic value, Nu, and which indicates both her name and her nature: she sometimes wears on her head the horns and disk of the goddess Hathor, and holds in her hands a papyrus sceptre and the symbol of life.
She once appears in the form of the amulet of the buckle, from the top of which projects her head, and she is provided with human arms, hands, and feet. Sometimes she appears in the form which is usually identified as that of Hathor, that is, as a woman standing in a sycamore tree and pouring out water from a vase for the souls of the dead who come to her. The ‘sycamore tree of Nut’ is mentioned in chap. six. of the Book of the Dead, and in the vignette we see the goddess standing in it (Gods of the Egyptians, ii. 103). It was at the foot of this sycamore tree that the serpent-monster Ap/ep, the personification of darkness and evil, was slain by the great cat Ra; and under its branches the souls of the weary gathered for shade during the fiery noon-tide heat, and were refreshed with the goddess’s own food. A more familiar representation of Nut than those above described is that of a “nude female form, bent over in an arched posture to denote the heavens, and supported by Shu, the son of Ra, who lifts her up from the embrace of Seb(Geb) (the earth). We have never met with a statuette or amulet of the goddess, and though it is affirmed that specimens exist in porcelain, we think it likely that some other deity has been mistaken for Nut: in any case the statement needs confirmation.

“Amentet : an account of the gods, amulets & scarabs of the ancient Egyptians” by Knight, Alfred Ernest, (1915)

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