Statue of the Goddess Sekhmet

The goddess Sekhmet, “the powerful one,” sits on a throne with a low back rest. Atop her leonine head there is a sun disk with uraeus serpent. Her woman’s body is clothed in a form-fitting dress with shoulder straps, and she wears a collar-like necklace, bracelets, and anklets. In her left hand Sekhmet holds the ankh-sign, the symbol of life.

The predatory impression of the lioness’ head placed on top of the imposing body of a woman is tempered by the tresses of the long wig which fall over the accentuated breasts. The mane is ornamental and gives a noble rather than a frightful appearance to the leonine face with its bony skull and stylized whiskers. On top of the head rises, or rather rose, a solar disk with a royal cobra which emphasizes the cosmic aspects of this composite manifestation of hazardous divinity.

Statue of the Goddess Sekhmet
Statue of the Goddess Sekhmet

The face has been modeled with extreme care. Its eyes are small and framed by eyelids in relief, which were originally painted, as were the five-partite collar and the edge of the robe. Sekhmet is seated on a block throne with a low back. To the left and right of the legs of the goddess, vertical lines of inscription have been added to the surface of the throne.

The lioness goddess Sekhmet is well known for her ferocity and danger. The goddess also had a good side. She had the power to ward off plagues and could even intercede as a healing goddess, even being called “Sekhmet, the lady of life”. Her priests seemed to have played an important role in the magical aspect of medicine, reciting prayers and spells for the sick along with the physical cure given by doctors.

New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, reign of Amenhotep III, ca. 1391-1353 BC. Black granite, from the Temple of Mut at Karnak. Now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. INV 77

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