Ptah; from “Handbook of Egyptian Mythology” (Geraldine Pinch)

Ptah was a creator deity who made the world with his heart and his tongue. As Ptah “South of His Wall” he was the chief god of the Egyptian capital, Memphis. He was usually shown as a bearded man wearing an artisan’s skullcap and an enveloping cloak or shroud. As “he who is beautiful of face,” Ptah had skin of celestial blue. His scepter combined the djed symbol of stability with the was symbol of dominion and the ankh symbol of life. He bestowed these three qualities on Egyptian kings, who were often crowned in his temple at Memphis.

Ptah’s consort was the solar lioness Sekhmet. Their son was Nefertem, the god of the primeval lotus. Ptah was also credited with siring Imhotep, a historical figure who was deifed as god of medicine and learning. The Apis bull, the most important sacred animal in Egypt, was the earthly messenger and visible ba (soul or manifestation) of Ptah.

A Mansion of Ptah is mentioned twice in the Pyramid Texts. This may be the same Mansion of the ka of Ptah (Egyptian—H.wt ka Ptah; Greek—Aigyptos) that eventually gave its name to the whole country. In the Middle Kingdom, Ptah was already known as a divine craftsman who could make a new body for a dead person. Ptah became the particular patron of metalworkers and sculptors. That dwarfs were traditionally employed to make jewelry may have been a factor in the development of a dwarf form (pataikos) of Ptah. The Greeks later equated Ptah with their bandy-legged smith god, Hephaistos.

Ptah was said to have invented the Opening of the Mouth ritual that was used to symbolically animate cult and ka statues and reanimate mummies. Osiris was the mythical prototype for all mummies, so in Coffin Texts spell 62 Ptah helps Horus to “break open” the mouth of Osiris and let him breathe again. During the New Kingdom, Ptah acquired a reputation as a compassionate deity. As Ptah “of the Hearing Ear,” he listened to the prayers of ordinary people.

The text known as the Memphite Theology may date to the late New Kingdom. In it, Ptah is acclaimed as a self-created deity who made everything that existed through the powers of thought and speech. This concept is reconciled with the theology of Heliopolis by identifying Ptah with many of the deities from the creation myths of that city. Ptah was linked with Nun and Naunet, the deities of the Primeval Waters who “gave birth” to Atum. Alternatively, Ptah was said to have shaped the creator Atum with his heart and tongue. Ptah-Tatjenen was the personifcation of the Primeval Mound, the place where creation began. Taking the role of Shu, Ptah was said to have made the sky and lifted it above the earth as easily as if it were a feather. He united the Two Lands (Egypt) as Horus in his “great name of Tatjenen.” One of the sophisticated hymns in Papyrus Leiden I 350 reduces the Egyptian pantheon to three. Amun was hidden power, Ra the visible power in the heavens, and Ptah the power manifest on or in the earth.

Ptah was also part of the triple entity Ptah-Sokar-Osiris. This divine group has been interpreted as symbolizing the whole cycle of regeneration, with Ptah standing for creation, Sokar for death as metamorphosis, and Osiris for rebirth. Ptah-Sokar-Osiris was sometimes shown presiding over the judgment of the dead in the Hall of the Two Truths. He remained important in funerary religion right into the Roman Period.

Quoted from: Geraldine Pinch, “Handbook of Egyptian Mythology”