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Wednesday, 9 January 2013

All things nefer

OK so this is a bit late for the New Year, unless you follow the Coptic Calender, or the ancient Egyptian one, in which case I'm either incredibly early or incredibly late. But Happy New Year to all.

w1359And, in the spirit, here is an ancient Egyptian New Year Vessel in the Egypt Centre heavy with symbols of newness. Or rather the top bit of one. If you want to know more about such things and see what a whole one would look like this is the link: http://www.egypt.swansea.ac.uk/index.php/collection/46-w1358-and-w1359

The top bit shows an opening lotus flower (water lily), a very widespread symbol of rebirth in ancient Egypt. One creation myth describes how at the beginning of time a beautiful water lily rose from the waters of chaos, the waters of the Nun. It opened out and from it came the sun-god Re.

Either side of the water lily are two baboons. Baboons were said to welcome the sun as it rose anew each morning. Well apparently they do make a lot of noise when they wake up.

w1358We also have the bottom bit of the New Year vessel (left). You will notice it isn't quite round but is squashed. It is shown, not quite circular just as the image of the sun arising in the horizon is also shown, so again a symbol of the sun coming up each day.
It also has an inscription on it wp rnpt nfr (Good New Year).

There are actually lots and lots of things in the Egypt Centre all to do with newness and rebirth. For example this (right) bit of a ring from Amarna showing a young girl playing a lute. During the 18th Dynasty the motif of the adolescent girl was particularly important and perhaps represented the nfrwt of Egyptian literature.

We also have green faced gods.

W927 This piece (left) from a tomb Chapel at Deir el-Medina shows the creator god Ptah with a green face. Ptah was often called nfr hr. Nefer is often translated as 'beautiful' but it also has connotations of newness and thus greeness. Each year, after the annual inundation of the Nile, new plants sprung up fresh and green.

Then, there's the bust of Nefertiti.

There are other nefer things but I think I'll leave it there.