Ancient Egyptians worshipped the deity Mut as a mother goddess. Her name’s literal translation is mother, according to the ancient Egyptian language. Like other goddesses, the attributes associated with Mut evolved and diversified over the thousand years of ancient Egyptian culture.
People considered Mut a primal deity and linked her with the primordial waters of goddess Nu that gave birth to everything in the world. Mut is one of the essential deities from the pages of Egyptian history as it credits her with the creation of life itself.
Origin Of Mut
People believed that Mut originates as a local goddess in the Nile river delta. Initially, ancient texts identified Mut as the mother of the cosmos, which gave her the creator deity’s characteristics. Later, she took on the attributes of many other goddesses and replaced some of them too.
Furthermore, Mut became a national goddess when god Amun, the supreme leader of gods and god of wind, took the place of a patron in Thebes. It occurred during the 21st century B.C., which led to a solid increase in Mut’s popularity.
Imagery Of Mut
The images discovered by archaeologists depict Mut as a woman adorned with the wings of a vulture. Some pictures show her solely in the form of a Vulture wearing the crown of royalty. Very often, the images of Mut showcased her wearing the double crown of Egypt or the vulture headdress of the New Kingdom queens.
Furthermore, the images depict Mut as a woman with the head of a lioness or a cow, cobra, etc. Ancient Egyptians considered the vulture to be nearer to god.
It could be due to the power and ability of the falcon to fly high in the sky or its wide wingspan. It’s possible that ancient Egyptians took inspiration from the vulture and distilled these motherly qualities into Mut.
The story of Mut, Amun and Ra
Mut also took over the position of Amun’s original wife, Amaunet, who was the invisible goddess. Since Amun was the god of pharaohs, people viewed Mut as their mother, strengthening her association with Egyptian queens. Mut became popular with Pharaoh Hatshepsut and Befertari Merytmut, the chief wife of king Ramesses II.
Amun’s authority decreased with the progression of time, and history merged him with the sun god Ra as the deity Amun-Ra. It further led to the assimilation of Mut into Hathor, the mother of Horus and wife of Ra. Hence, Mut inherited the title of “Eye of Ra” that legends link with Sekhmet, Hathor, Tefnut, Bast and Wadjet.
People considered the “Eye of the Ra” as the daughter of sun god Ra that took the form of a lion. The great animal embodied the fierceness and heat of the sun itself. But since people also worshipped Mut as the “Mother of the Sun in Whom he Rises”, she became the mother and daughter of Ra.
Family Ties of Goddess Mut
According to ancient scripts, Mut had no parents as legends say that she was the great mother. However, despite being the mother goddess, she did not give birth to her children. Rather than that, she adopted the war and moon gods, Menthu and Khonsu, respectively.
Ancient Egyptians of Luxor built the temple of Amun, where they worshipped the Theban triad. This triad consisted of Amun, his consort Mut and their son Khonsu during the 18th and 25th Dynasties.
Associations of the Goddess
Ancient texts closely link Mut with several other prominent goddesses. It includes Isis and Nut, making her a part of various composite deities. Along with Isis and Nekhbet, goddess Mut formed the god called “Mut-Isis-Nekhbet, The Great Mother and Lady”.
Historians discovered imagery that depicts the goddess as a winged deity with leonine feet, an erect penis and three heads. The three heads were: busts of a lioness with Min’s double plumed headdress, a vulture with the red crown of Lower Egypt and a woman adorned with the double crown of Egypt.
Another imagery includes Mut in a trio with Bast and Sekhmet as the Sekhmet-Bast-Ra deity. This worship figure also had three heads: a lion with a plumed headdress, a woman with a double crown and a vulture with a double plumed hat.
The Book of the Dead mentions this particular form of Mut as the protector of dead people. Her other worship forms included Mut-Wdjet-Bast, Mut-Sekhmet-Bast-Menhet and Mut-Temt.
The Worship of Mut
One can still find the temples of Mut in modern-day Egypt and Sudan. It reflects the popularity and devotion that Mut enjoyed in ancient times. The goddesses’ cult centre in Sudan became the Mut temple of Jebel Barkal, whereas, in Egypt, it became the temple in Karnak.
According to history, that temple housed the statue considered as the embodiment of her actual Ka. The daily worship of Mut included practising rituals by the king and her priestesses. We can notice that the inner temple reliefs portray scenes of the priestesses worshipping Mut. Uniquely, these reliefs are the only remaining imagery of women administrating worship from Ancient Egyptian time.
During the Eighteenth Century, the pharaoh Hatshepsut ordered the temple’s rebuilding devoted to Mut at Karnak. Hatshepsut started the tradition of Mut’s depiction with the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt. Some historians believe that Amenhotep III removed most signs of Hatshepsut and took credit for the project she built.
Festival of Mut
During the New Kingdom, the city of Thebes celebrated the Festival of Mut with great pomp and show. Citizens placed a statue of Mut on the barque and sailed it around the sacred lake, Isheru. Another ceremony during the New year celebrated Amun travelling from the Luxor Temple down to Karnak to visit Mut.
Ancient Egyptians worshipped Mut as “Mut, the great lady of Isheru, the Lady of Heaven and the Queen of the Gods”. These titles bear an excellent representation of the power Mut enjoyed during the olden time. The worship of Mut lasted well into the Roman period, after which her temples fell. But the stories and images of Mut still live on in Modern Egypt.