Monday, 13 November 2017


“The cow is of the bovine ilk; one end is moo, the other milk.” - Ogden Nash 

Hesat is an ancient Egyptian goddess in the form of a cow. She was said to provide humanity with milk (called “the beer of Hesat”) and in particular to suckle the pharaoh and several ancient Egyptian bull gods. In the Pyramid Texts she is said to be the mother of Anubis and of the deceased king. She was especially connected with Mnevis, the living bull god worshipped at Heliopolis, and the mothers of Mnevis bulls were buried in a cemetery dedicated to Hesat. In Ptolemaic times (304–30 BC) she was closely linked with the goddess Isis.

In the Anti (Nemty) myth, this ancient Upper Egyptian hawk god decapitated the cow-goddess (alternatively Hathor or Hesat) and was flayed for his crime. Hesat, referred to as mother of the flayed skin fetish, anointed Anti’s skin with a cream containing her milk, restoring it. This skin, supported by a pole became the symbol for Imiut and thus Anubis. Hesat was identified with Hathor and Isis. In royal birth myths she gave birth to the baby king in the form of a golden calf and suckled him. Thus, in the myth of Hatshepsut’s birth she told the baby queen: “I guide your mouth towards my milk”.

Generally speaking Hesat stood for the provision of the loving care a child needs for growing up. In Heb-Sed scenes such as that of Osorkon II the Isis-Hesat cow is represented both on the side of the Upper as well as of the Lower Egyptian deities.

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