(Ta-urt, Toëris) Taweret (Thoêris as rendered in Greek), whose name means ‘She who is mighty’, is the most well-known of the Goddesses depicted in semi-hippopotamus form, of whom other examples are Ipy and Reret. All of these Goddesses are depicted as bipedal hippopotami with pendulous breasts, lion’s paws, and the ridged back and tail of a crocodile. Taweret is, in particular, often depicted resting one front paw on the symbol sa or sau, identified as a rolled up papyrus shelter used by herdsmen, which means ‘protection’, and holding a torch. Taweret is not exclusively represented in semi-hippopotamus form, however, but can also depicted in a fully anthropomorphic form closely resembling Hathor. A very popular Goddess well into late antiquity (her temple at Oxyrhynchus was the site of a ritual ‘symposium’ as late as 462 CE), Taweret is invoked to protect physical well-being, especially that of women in childbirth, sharing this function with Bes, with whom she is often juxtaposed. She is a protector of the infant Horus, as the text on the base of a statue of Taweret states: “I am Taweret in her power, she who fights for the one who is hers and who repels those who would do violence to her child Horus,” (Génies, Anges et Démons, 52). Taweret is sometimes said to be a consort of Seth, who can take the form of a hippopotamus, but also perhaps on account of Seth’s own positive association with physical vigor. Taweret has a special association with fresh water, basins or bowls for libation or purification having been found inscribed with prayers to “Taweret the pure water.”
Meeks, Dimitri. 1971. “Génies, anges, démons en Égypte.” In Génies, Anges et Démons. Paris: Éditions du Seuil.