Nit is Neat!
December 27, 2019

 
Recently I've gotten to know Nit (aka "Neith") a little bit better. Texts inscribed at Sais declare her Mother of Ra. As Mother of Ra (who is Father of Hathor), she is to me "Great Grandmother Nit". But as I understand it, she's everyone's "Great Grandmother".

The Contendings of Horus and Set (as related in the 20th Dyn. Chester Beatty Papyrus I ) may have been purely a satirical piece. The only deity which gets any respect is Neith. She is described as "'the eldest, the Mother of the gods, who shone on the first face,' implying that she predated everyone else." Barbara Lesko, _The Great Goddesses of Egypt_, (University of Oklahoma Press, 1999), page 57

Earlier in the 19th Dynasty, the stone sarcophagus of Merneptah (who reigned after Ramesses II), features a text that "refers to Neith as a creator deity: again she is the mother of the major gods Re and Osiris, the One who was present at the beginning." (Lesko, page 57)

Although Merneptah's text is the earliest text that we've found declaring Neith as a Creator Deity, Lesko declares that Nit was "the most revered goddess at the beginning of Egyptian history." (Lesko, page 45)

"The earliest portrayal of what is believed to be a sacred shrine is associated with the cult of Neith. Although Neith has always been associated with the northern city of Sais in the eastern delta, this early drawing was found in Upper Egypt. It occurs on an ivory label from the burial site of King Aha, perhaps the first ruler of a united Egypt, who would have reigned about 3100 B.C." (Lesko, page 45)

"The founding of the temple of Neith, north of Memphis's white walls, and of the god Ptah to the south of the walls may well go back to the beginning of the First Dynasty." (Lesko, page 48)

"In the Pyramid Texts the goddesses Isis, Nephthys, Neith, and Selket appear as protectors of the throne (Utt. 362) and as guardians of the king and his mortal remains:

"'My mother is Isis My nurse is Nephthys... Neith is behind me and Selket is before me.' (PT Utt. 555)" (Lesko, page 51)

Speaking again of Nit's creative nature, this text (likely from the Temple of Esna (or Sais?) declares:

"You are the Lady of Sais... whose two-thirds are masculine and one-third is feminine
Unique Goddess, mysterious and great
who came to be in the beginning
and caused everything to come to be...
the divine mother of Re, who shines in the horizon
the mysterious one who radiates her brightness."
(Lesko, page 61)

Henadology explains:

"Neith personifies the creative potency of the primordial waters, not as a passive substrate but as the very agent of the emergence of the cosmos, in particular through an identification between the flow of the primordial waters and the flow of time. A hymn from Esna states that Neith fashions the world “in her form of Goddess who reaches to the limits of the universe, in her material form of the liquid surface, in her name of unlimited duration,” (Esna, vol. 5, p. 111); “the extension of the water which makes eternity [heh],” “the stream which fashions everlastingness [djet],” (ibid., p. 114 n. i)."

As part of her creative aspects "Neith was also regarded as the divine patron of weavers". (Lesko, page 56) The fabric which is woven is understood to convey Neith's protection through it.

The following statue features a very common pose given to statues of Nit.
She's nearly eight inches tall.

It is a reproduction of a bronze statue in the Hermitage. (The photo of an enthroned Nit is at LACMA)


Statue of Nit at the British Museum, photo Wikipedia

There are several statues with this pose, striding, one arm down (which would hold an ankh) and one extended (likely holding a Was scepter).

I like to think that being patron of weaving, Nit would be patron of all textile arts. The following cross stitch features the hieroglyphs that usually spell her name. The center glyph is either a warrior's shield or a weaver's loom.
Cross stitch on 14 grid aida canvas...., 13 inches high, including casing

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