The Malqata Menat, late Eighteenth Dynasty
An elaborate menat necklace depicted in a relief at the Temple of Hathor at Dendera
An elaborate menat necklace depicted in a relief at the Temple of Hathor at Dendera

In ancient Egyptian religion, menat (Ancient Egyptian: mnj.t, Arabic: منات) was a name of the goddess Hathor,[1] and of a type of artifact closely associated with her,[2] much like the sistrum was.

Operation

The artifact, whose name was slightly different in hieroglyphic spelling than that of the goddess,[3] was held in the hand by its counterpoise and used as a rattle by Hathor's priestesses.[4] Often it was worn as a protective amulet, even by Apis bulls.[5]

Parts

Part of the menat was a plate called an aegis (Greek for "shield"), worn on the chest, to which strands of beaded strings were attached. The other ends of the strings were tied to a counterweight that dangled on the wearer's back.[6] The aegis was often made of faience, but other materials as varied as leather and bronze were also used.[7] It was often inscribed or bore depictions of deities associated with Hathor.

Purpose

The necklace was meant to ensure good luck and fortune and to protect against evil spirits. It was also worn for protection in the afterlife and is often found buried with the dead, given as a grave gift since Ramesside times (the Nineteenth and Twentieth Dynasties that comprise the last two-thirds of the period known as the New Kingdom).[8] Worn by women, it was expected to foster fruitfulness and good health, while among men it signified virility.[9]

Footnotes

  1. ^ Ermann & Grapow, op. cit., 2, 76, 4.
  2. ^ Armour, op.cit., p. 91.
  3. ^ Ermann & Grapow, op. cit., 2, 75.18-76.3.
  4. ^ Hart, op. cit., p. 65.
  5. ^ Van der Toorn et al., op.cit., p. 70.
  6. ^ Bianchi, op. cit., p. 202.
  7. ^ Petrie Museum Collection - search for menat
  8. ^ Lurker, op. cit., p. 132.
  9. ^ Doniger, op. cit., p. 709.

References

Media related to Menat-necklace and counterpoise at Wikimedia Commons