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Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Hippos for rejuvenation

If you are looking for a gift associated with this season of revival why not buy a hippo!

It seems well known that hippopotami are dangerous animals, and so for the ancient Egyptians they were symbols of aggressive protection and even of evil (we have a statue of Seth as a hippo in the Egypt Centre, but more on that another time)

Hippos, were also for the ancient Egyptians symbols of greed, they were called 'water pigs', but also rebirth and regeneration. The obvious example of this, is of course Taweret, and I've blogged about her previously (you can follow the labels on the right here and click on Taweret).

As symbols of rebirth and regeneration they were popular on amulets for the dead, such as the one here, on the left. The newborn king was said to be nourished by the milk of a hippopotamus goddess

As hippos live in the fertile Nile mud and river, no wonder they were associated with new life. To reinforce this connection with new life, some model hippos were made in faience and decorated with new marsh plants. There is one such example in the British Museum. The colour blue was associated with the heavens, water and the Nile, and thus futher reinforces the rejuvenating aspects of this animal.

Unfortunately we don't have such a beautiful faience hippopotamus in the Egypt Centre collection, though we do have a copy of one which we sell in our shop, so I shall just show you the picture of her here (right). Isn't she sweet?

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