The scientific tourist #289 — statue of Sekhmet

Carved from black granite during the Third Intermediate Period (1069-656 BCE), it’s Sekhmet in Chicago’s Field Museum:

Statue of Sekhmet

Sekhmet was originally the warrior goddess and (somewhat ironically) also the goddess of healing for Upper Egypt.  She was depicted as a lioness (the fiercest hunter known to the Egyptians), or as a woman with the head of a lioness.

From the placard:

Sekhmet, the lioness, is the hostile aspect of Bastet the kind cat.

Sekhmet, the Powerful One, was called into being by Re, the sun god, to punish humanity for plotting rebellion. Her lioness nature enjoyed the blood mission so much that she could not be stopped. The gods, fearing that humanity would be destroyed altogether, had their servants prepare seven thousand jars of beer laced with red dye.

They spread it on the fields, and upon waking she drank it all, thinking it was blood. The beer so addled her that she returned to her palace to sleep it off, and humankind was saved.

Her counterpart, Bastet, represents the kindly, life-giving side of cat nature… both Bastet and Sekhmet are parts of the same creative force of the universe.

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