Taweret (Taueret, Taurt, Toeris, Ipy, Ipet, Apet, Opet, Reret) - The Great Female - was the ancient Egyptian goddess of maternity and childbirth, protector of women and children. Like Bes, she was both a fierce demonic fighter as well as a popular deity who guarded the mother and her newborn child.

She was depicted as a combination of a crocodile, a pregnant hippopotamus standing on her hind legs with large breasts and a lion. Unlike the composite demoness Ammut, her head and body were that of the hippo, her paws were that of the lion, and her back was the back of a crocodile. All of these animals were man killers, and as such she was a demoness.

It was in her role of a protector that she was seen as a goddess. As the mother hippo is protective of her young, Taweret was believed to be protective of Egyptian children. She was often shown holding the sa hieroglyph of protection or the ankh hieroglyph of life. She was thought to assist women in labour and scare off demons that might harm the mother or child.


Taweret was a household deity, rather than a specific deity of the pharaoh, and she enjoyed huge popularity with the every day Egyptian. She wore a low, cylindrical headdress surmounted by two plumes or sometimes she wore the horns and solar disk of Hathor. Although her popularity was strongest in later periods, she first appeared in the Old Kingdom as the mother of the pharaoh, offering to suckle him with her divine milk. In later times, the pharaoh Hatshepsut depicted the goddess attending to her birth along side other deities of childbirth. During Egyptian history, she was called by three names - Ipet ('harem'), Taweret ('great one') and Reret ('the sow'). Of the three, the cult of Taweret assimilated the other two versions of this goddess, despite the Temple of Ipet (often translated to be 'Harem' rather than the name of the goddess) at Karnak.


In Egyptian astronomy, Taweret was linked to the northern sky. In this role she was known as Nebetakhet, the Mistress of the Horizon - the ceiling painting of the constellations in the tomb of Seti I showed her in this capacity. She was thought to keep the northern sky - a place of darkness, cold, mist, and rain to the Egyptians - free of evil. She was shown to represent the never-setting circumpolar stars of Ursa Minor and Draco. The seven stars lined down her back are the stars of the Little Dipper. She was believed to be a guardian of the north, stopping all who were unworthy before they could pass her by.


At Thebes, she was also thought to be the mother of Osiris, and so linked to the sky goddess Nut. Another part of this theology was that it was Amen, who became the supreme god rather than Ra, who was the father of Osiris.


Plutarch described Taweret as a concubine of Set who had changed her ways to become a follower of Horus. In this form, she was linked to the goddess Isis. It was thought that the goddess kept Set's powers of evil fettered by a chain. This is probably because she was a hippo goddess while Set was sometimes seen as a male hippo. The male hippopotamus was seen by the Egyptians as a very destructive creature, yet the female hippopotamus came to symbolise protection. This is probably why Set was, in later times, regarded as evil while Taweret was thought to be a helpful goddess, deity of motherhood and protector of women and children.

From: Taweret, Goddess Demoness of Birth, Rebirth and the Northern Sky
Early during the Old Kingdom, the Egyptians saw female hippopotami as less aggressive than the males, and began to view their aggression as only protecting their young--not territorial, as was male aggression. Consequently, Taweret became seen, very early in Egyptian history, as a deity of protection in pregnancy and childbirth. Pregnant women wore amulets with her name or likeness to protect their pregnancies. Because of her protective powers during childbirth, "the image of the hippopotamus-goddess was considered a suitable motif for the decoration of beds and headrests.[2]

In most subsequent depictions, Taweret was depicted with features of a pregnant woman. In a composite addition to the animal-compound she was also seen with pendulous breasts, a full pregnant abdomen, and long, straight human hair on her head. Faience vases in the shape of the goddess "provided with a small pouring hole at the nipple, were sometimes used to serve milk, presumably in an attempt to invoke extra divine potency into the liquid."[3]

As a protector, she often was shown with one arm resting on the sa symbol, which symbolized protection, and on occasion she carried an ankh, the symbol of life, or a knife, which would be used to threaten evil spirits. As the hippopotamus was associated with the Nile, these more positive ideas of Taweret allowed her to be seen as a goddess of the annual flooding of the Nile and the bountiful harvest that it brought. Ultimately, although only a household deity, since she was still considered the consort of Apep, Taweret was seen as one who protected against evil by restraining it.

From: Wiki
"The Great One". A very popular Egyptian hippopotamus goddess of childbirth. She is a domestic deity who is portrayed on beds and on pillows. Pregnant women commonly wore amulets bearing the goddess's image. Taweret assists women in labor and wards off demons (hence her scary appearance). She was often found in the company of the dwarf god Bes, who had a similar function. She was depicted as part woman part hippopotamus, with sagging breasts, a swollen belly, and the head of a hippopotamus. Sometimes she also had the legs and arms of a lion, and the tail of a crocodile. She was often depicted holding the Sa amulet symbolizing protection. Also called Opet.

From: here
Her family relationships were typically confusing. She was ocassionally (usually in older texts) described as the demon-wife of Apep who lived in the norther sky. This area was also associated with Set. One myth (reported by Plutarch) claimed that Taweret was the concubine of Set but that she was loyal to Horus. Apparently, she helped Isis after the death of her husband Osiris by detaining Set in the northern sky and preventing him from attacking Isis and her new baby. The link to Set probably came about because he sometimes took the form of a Hippo and because the animal was recognised to be potentially dangerous and destructive.

As the wife of Set she was linked to Isis whose magic kept the god in fetters. However, she was also described as the wife of Sobek, probably because he took the form of a crocodile. Sobek was associated with Set, but also with Horus (the enemy of Set) and Isis. She was frequently described as the wife of Bes, a demonic deity who was also closely linked to childbirth. Finally, in Thebes, Amun and Taweret were thought to be the parents of Osiris (and therefore by implications his siblings, including Set). One of the most popular festivals (called Ipet or Opet) celebrated her marriage to Amun thereby associating her with Amanuet and Mut. In fact in later times, Mut absorbed many of Tawret's attributes. She was also associated with Nut the sky goddess of the Ennead because her constellation was always above the horizon.

From: here
Taweret (Tau-Urt; G/R Thoueris) - "Great Female of the Land" Thousands of smiling statues of hippopotami with pendulous breasts, long pleated hair and Hethert's horns-and-crescent headdress have been found as testament to the popularity of Taweret in ancient times as the protectress of childbearing women. She was also considered the main protectress of infants and children, along with Bes. The hippopotamus which is Her theophany was probably not venerated particularly for its mothering skills, but for brute strength and staying power - and its ability to scare just about anything that shouldn't be there away. In some texts, Taweret is also called "Opet," which is also the name given to the first festival of the Kemetic year held in honor of Amen and Mut at Karnak.

From: Kemet.org
Other Sites:
Shrine to Taweret with info
Taweret - Wepwawet Wiki
Short article
Taweret (Thoêris) « Henadology
"Sa" Hieroglyph associated with her