Bust of a Priestess of Hathor
This bust is just a fragment of a statue of a Priestess of Hathor from the New Kingdom in Egypt. The priestess served the Egyptian cow goddess Hathor who unlike many other gods and goddesses had both male and female servants. Egyptian priests were meant to serve the gods and with this responsibility many of them had to follow strict rules to fulfill their duties.
It was believed that the human world was rather dirty so the priests and priestess’ would clean the temples and redress the statues of gods each day, dressing them in jewelry, makeup and even scented oils. This also led them to keep themselves exceptionally clean for the era. Many would bath more than twice a day and were forced to shave off all of their hair to prevent the chance of lice.
In the New Kingdom of Egypt, the role of a Priestess of Hathor held significant importance. Hathor was a prominent goddess associated with love, beauty, music, and motherhood. Priestesses of Hathor served as her dedicated representatives and played a vital role in religious ceremonies and rituals.
These priestesses were responsible for maintaining the cult of Hathor, performing sacred rites, and offering prayers and sacrifices on behalf of the community. They were believed to have a direct connection with the goddess and acted as intermediaries between the divine and the mortal realm.
Priestesses of Hathor were often highly respected and held esteemed positions within the religious hierarchy. They were known for their musical talents, dancing skills, and ability to invoke the blessings of Hathor through their rituals. Their role extended beyond the temple, as they also provided spiritual guidance and support to the community.
The Priestesses of Hathor in the New Kingdom of Egypt played a crucial role in upholding the worship and reverence of this important goddess, ensuring her favor and protection for the people.
Hathor was a multifaceted deity. Her name, literally ‘the abode of Horus’, immediately emphasised the close connection with the falcon-headed god, whose mother or wife the goddess was. In this role, Hathor was considered a solar deity and could represent the sky, the home where Horus was free to fly.
“Bust Fragment from a Statue of a Priestess of Hathor,” New Kingdom, 18th to 19th Dynasty, ca. 1395 BC-1186 BC. Limestone with traces of paint. Given by his friends in memory of Joseph David Nelson, Jr. On view in Cincinnati Art Museum. Gallery 102. 1966.266