Ancient Egypt: Divine and royal headdresses and crowns
Divine and royal headdresses and crownsThe Egyptians, like many other Africans, did not wear any head-dresses. They sometimes wore headbands or covered their hair with wigs, but hats or caps were not worn by the people. The pharaoh and their families on the other hand availed themselves of the increased stature headdresses bestowed upon them. The kings, like the gods, are rarely shown with uncovered heads.
Divine crownsMany of the gods can be identified by their headdress, but just as their identities sometimes merge with each other, a certain crown primarily worn by one god may also be depicted crowning another.
The White and Red Crowns were more than just headdresses a king put on. They embodied the two lands, the victorious Upper and the vanquished Lower Egypt:
The triumph of the White CrownThe original wearer of the crowns of Egypt had been Osiris
Glory be to thee, O Osiris Un-Nefer, thou great god in Abtu (Abydos), King of Eternity, Lord of Everlastingness, God whose existence is millions of years, eldest son of Nut, begotten by Geb, the Ancestor-Chief, Lord of the Crowns of the South and the North, Lord of the High White CrownAfter his demise and resurrection he relinquished them in favour of his son Horus, and took to wearing the plumed atef crown. As ruler of the underworld the dead were brought before him and implored him for help
The deceased then addresses Osiris, and says, "Hail, thou who art exalted upon thy standard, thou Lord of the Atefu Crown, whose name is 'Lord of Winds,' save me from thy Messengers (or Assessors) with uncovered faces, who bring charges of evil and make shortcomings plain, because I have performed the Law (or Truth) for the Lord of the Law (or Truth).
Pharaonic crownsSeshed (sSd) diadems, metal headbands to which uraei were affixed, were worn since the Old Kingdom and some have been recovered by archaeologists, notably the one worn by the mummy of Tutankhamen. Other headdresses were seemingly mostly made from organic materials and few remains have survived. The forms of most of the crowns are known from depictions only.
In early times there were few different royal crowns. They were kept in the Double Chapel guarded by the Lower Egyptian goddess Wadjet and the Upper Egyptian Nekhbet. After purifying himself the king to be crowned entered the chapel and the crown was placed on his head and a priest spoke these words
Nothing is lost to thee, nothing has ceased for thee. Behold, thou art renewed and more powerful than the gods of Upper Egypt and its spirits.The crowns, like the sceptres, were symbols of might. Conferring them upon a person meant also investing him (or her) with their power. A king could share them with his successor or they were inherited after the king's demise. Amenhotep II wrote about his accession that Amen-Re crowned him king upon the throne of the living and if during the Old Kingdom there had been just two crowns and the nemes to wear, New Kingdom pharaohs had a whole cupboard full of them - although some of the crowns may have been virtual:
Risen as king upon the great throne,According to an inscription, Thutmose I crowned his daughter Hatshepsut on the auspicious New Years Day, though in reality she began her reign sometime during the twelfth month. Moreover, the events as described by the queen are unlikely to have happened in this fashion.
Come, glorious one; I have placed (thee) before me; that thou mayest see thy administration in the palace, and the excellent deeds of thy ka's that thou mayest assume thy royal dignity, glorious in they magic, mighty in thy strength. Thou shalt be powerful in the Two Lands; thou shalt seize the rebellious; thou shalt appear in the palace, thy forehead shall be adorned with the double diadem, resting upon the head of the heiress of Horus, whom I begat, daughter of the white crown, beloved of Buto. The diadems are given to thee by him who presides over the thrones of the gods.If Hatshepsut was stretching the truth well beyond breaking point, co-regents were appointed in such a manner. Ramses II, another monarch who was liberal in his attitude towards veracity, told the story of his coronation in the Great Abydos Inscription:
When my father appeared to the public, I being a child between his arms. [He] sa[id] concerning me: "Crown him as king, that I may see his beauty while I live with him."Ramses III entrusted the future of his son, Ramses IV, to Amen:
Hear my petition! O my father, my lord, I am alone among the gods who are at thy side. Crown my son as king upon the throne of Atum, establish him as mighty Bull, lord L.P.H., of the two shores, King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Lord of the Two Lands: Usermare-Setepnamon.and to make sure that his son would succeed him he also enlisted the help of Re:
Establish my son to be king, as lord of the Two Regions, that he may rule the Two Lands, like thee, as sovereign, L.P.H., in Egypt: Usermare-Setepnamon, L.P.H., whom thou hast chosen for thyself, to be heir, to magnify thy name. Set the white crown and the divine double crown upon his head, like as thou wert crowned upon earth, as Horus, wearer of the double diadem.The uraeus, a cobra in attack position, often formed part of the royal headdress, sometimes as double or even triple uraeus. It protected from evil and was also called the fiery eye of Re. It was a symbol of kingship, also worn by the divine rulers of Upper and Lower Egypt, Seth and Horus, as Eye of Re by Hathor, and as Upes, the goddess of fire, by Tefnut.
Use mouseover to see examples of the crowns
 Anhuret: Onuris, god of the city This, bearer of the skies, identified with Shu (Onuris-Shu) in the New Kingdom. He is Lord of Slaughter who defeats the enemies of the sun god. According to the myth he returned the Eye of Re.
 Anuket: one of the goddesses of the cataracts. Generally depicted in human form. An ostracon depicts her as a gazelle calling her Lady of the Sky and Princess of the Gods.
 Atem, also Atum, creator god of Heliopolis.
 Ayebt, Eiebt etc.: personification of the East.
 Bes: Popular protective god
 Ha: God of the western desert
 Hah: Personification of infinity and eternity
 Harakhte: Horus of the Horizon, merged with Re into Re-Harakhte.
 Maat: Embodiment of the divine order and justice.
 Hemsut: Protective goddess
 Meskhenet: Protective goddess of the mother giving birth and her child
 Neith: Goddess of Sais, since the New Kingdom mother of Re
 Nekhbet: Vulture goddess of Upper Egypt
 Nephthys: Sister of Isis, protective goddess
 Nut: The Heliopolitan goddess of the sky.
 Reshef: originally Canaanite god of lightning and plague, became an Egyptian god of war during the New Kingdom and later a popular protective deity who listens to pleas
 Satis: Lady of Elephantine, consort of Khnum
 Selket: Protective goddess, above all of the deceased. Also shown wearing horns and a sun disk.
 Seshat: Goddess of writing
 Sukhos: Crocodile god
 Waset: Goddess of the nome of Thebes.
 Tanent, Iunit: consorts of Montu
 Gay Robins, Ann S. Fowler, Proportion and Style in Ancient Egyptian Art, University of Texas Press 1994, p.151
 Karol Mysliewiec, XVIIIth Dynasty Before the Amarna Period, Brill Academic Publishers 1985, p.27
 Toby A. H. Wilkinson, Early Dynastic Egypt, Routledge 1999, p.196
 ibidem, p.187
 Jon Manchip White, 1963, Everyday Life in Ancient Egypt, Courier Dover 2002, p.88
 László Török, The Image of the Ordered World in Ancient Nubian Art: the construction of the Kushite mind, Brill Academic Publishers 2002, p.234
 Katheryn A. Bard, Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, Routledge 1999, p.412
 Pascal Vernus, Jean Yoyotte, The Book of the Pharaohs, Cornell University Press 2003, p.56
 Mary A. Witt, Charlotte V Brown, Ronald G Witt, The Humanities: Cultural Roots and Continuities, Brief Edition, Houghton Mifflin 1993, p.75
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