Hathor Tunic

Thought to be from Deir el-Bahari at Thebes, this tunic depicts the goddess Hathor in cow form, emerging from the mountain of the West with the solar disc between her horns, along with the double plume. Hieroglyphs write; “Hathor foremost of Thebes, Lady of Heaven, Mistress of the Gods“. The collar is designed with a sistrum, a musical instrument associated with Hathor and priestesses. Below the image of Hathor, the tunic is also inscribed with the name of a woman whose name ends with “imentet”, unfortunately the beginning of her name is now missing, however, her title “Mistress of the House” remains in an inscription.

Measuring at only 34.30 cm in length and 25.50cm wide, it is thought that the piece could have been a tunic made for a child, however, scholars do suggest it simply could have been produced as a votive offering to Hathor.

It has been described as a child's tunic, but it is more likely that it was specially produced as a votive offering to the goddess Hathor.
British Museum Curator: “It has been described as a child’s tunic, but it is more likely that it was specially produced as a votive offering to the goddess. Many types of votive objects were deposited in temples all over Egypt as gifts expressing devotion to deities, who, it was hoped, would in turn favour the donor. This and similar textiles may have been donated by women to the cult, perhaps accompanying specific prayers for children or successful childbirth. However, none of the inscriptions make reference to this. Another suggestion is that the tunics may have been used to clothe divine images; there is some evidence from the titles of the persons named on them that only those connected with the Hathor cult presented such garments. They presumably had to be stored carefully in the temples to maintain and protect the decoration and efficacy of the object.”

The exact location of where the tunic was found is unknown, but it is likely from Deir el-Bahari. When the British Museum acquired the piece, the “Egypt Exploration Fund’s excavations in the area of the temple of Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II at Deir el-Bahari were revealing a number of cloths and other votive textiles (as well as many other votive objects) related to the later cult of Hathor”.


Painted linen tunic with Hathor emblem
New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty, c. 1275 B.C.
Likely from Deir el-Bahari.
Now at the British Museum. EA43071