(Tayt, Tait) Tayet is the Goddess of weaving and of linen, and is important in Egyptian religion particularly inasmuch as she provides the fabric in which mummies were wrapped, which provides a protective shell for the body during the process of resurrection; Tayet is also responsible for the garments which clothe the cult statues of the Gods, the dressing of which was an important ritual activity. The clothing of the Gods represents a layer of insulation but at the same time of connection between the Gods and the mortal world. In a text from the temple of Hathor at Dendera Tayet is said to be she “who purifies the Goddesses, who did spin of old and was the first to weave,” (Dendara IV, 125, 5-6). Tayet is depicted in fully anthropomorphic form, although she is sometimes conceived as the linen itself, as in an inscription from the same temple  stating that Tayet was born with green skin (Dendara IV, 126, 4-5), a reference to the green linen fiber; but she is also called “Pale of complexion,” (ibid) like the linen fabric in its finished state. ‘Tayet’ is also an alternate name for the town of Buto (Dep), which was therefore perhaps her place of origin. Tayet is frequently associated with Shesmu, the God of anointing, who plays a similarly important role in the embalming process; with Nepry, the God of grain, another staple crop; and with Hedjhotep, a God of linen and weaving, difficult to distinguish functionally from Tayet, but sometimes regarded as her consort.

Utterance 417 of the Pyramid Texts states of the deceased that “While the Great One sleeps upon his mother Nut, your mother Tayet clothes you, she lifts you up to the sky in this her name of ‘Kite’; he whom she has found is her Horus.” Note that the kite is a bird particularly associated with Isis. CT spell 282 is for “becoming” (i.e. invoking) Tayet, who is said here to make a “seat” for the deceased, so that s/he need not “lie down in the shambles,” the slaughterhouse of the netherworld. A more symbolic interpretation of Tayet’s work is offered in PT utterance 415, a prayer to Tayet “who reconciled the God to his brother,” i.e., who reconciled Horus and Seth. “Guard the King’s head, lest it become loose,” the spell continues, “gather together the King’s bones, lest they become loose, and put the love of the King into the body of every God who shall see him.” Here the process of reintegrating the body, in which Tayet plays a crucial role, is understood as the reconciliation of Horus and Seth because the possibility of the resurrection settles the issue between these Gods, allowing life to move forward infused with the acknowledgment and preservation of its tie to those who came before. In BD spell 172, it is said of the deceased that “Thou eatest bread on a cloth which Tayet herself has woven.” Tayet thus provides a comprehensive buffer, as it were, between the deceased and all of the sources from which impurity or entropy might invade him/her. Tayet has a specific association with Nepry, the God of grain, who stands in the same relationship to bread as Tayet stands to clothing; hence on a stela of the 11th Dynasty, the deceased adds to the conventional autobiographical formula “I gave bread to the hungry and clothing to the naked” a theological correlate: “I was son of Nepry, husband of Tayet.”

In CT spell 60, the “curtain of the horizon,” which is probably also the curtain that closes off the embalming tent, is compared to “the cloak of Ptah which Tayet herself wove,” referring to Ptah’s mummiform dress. Ptah is again the special recipient of a garment from Tayet in BD spell 82, “for assuming the form of Ptah,” which has the general purpose of making the body of the deceased fully functional in the netherworld; here the deceased affirms, “I put on a linen garment from the hand of Tayet.” The connection between Tayet and Ptah is probably more substantial than Ptah’s mummiform garb, which itself refers, not principally to the funerary sphere, but to eternity. As the demiurge or artisan of the cosmos, Ptah is naturally assisted by Tayet, whose ‘garments’ are not mere clothing: in BD spell 172, it is said of the deceased that “Thou puttest on the pure garment; thou layest aside the thick garment.” Tayet fashions every sort of garment for the Gods, as can be seen in CT spell 486, “Weaving the dress for Hathor,” in which the operator, who wishes to take part in this task, affirms that “my hands support Tayet” or “I raise up the hands of Tayet to her [Hathor].” Depictions from the temple of Hathor at Dendera show Tayet  personally arraying Hathor in her ceremonial clothing (Dendara IV, 179, 10-14 and 265, 13-14), and when the king presents deities with their various ceremonial clothes he is designated “the express image” (tyt) of Tayet (Dendara III, 119, 11; IV, 56, 15-16). It is in regard to her control of this form of interface between the Gods and the world that Tayet is hailed as “mother of the Gods, mistress of the Goddesses, who arrays the images [i.e., the cult statues of the Gods] in her handiwork, gives sweetness to their flesh, clothes their bodies and gives health to their frames,” (Dendara IV, 101, 12-13). The clothing of the cult statues in the temples are called “the great adornments of Tayet,” (Dendara IV, 106, 3-4), and a text from the temple of Khnum at Esna states that “the beautiful clothes” which are “to beautify the body” of Khnum have been woven by Tayet herself (Esna V, 190, 7-8), an interesting affirmation inasmuch as Khnum is himself responsible for fashioning the bodies of living beings.

A medical spell for “warding off an haemorrhage” (no. 31 in Borghouts) characterizes the bleeding as the Nile’s inundation, which Anubis is charged to prevent “from treading on what is pure – the land of Tayet,” i.e. the bandage.

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2 Responses to “Tayet”

  1. […] the Kemetic Orthodox beginners class. The blessing for the water begins by calling on the goddess Tayet, a goddess of weaving and purification, as well as Ptah, Heru (Horus,) Set, and Nit. It concludes […]

  2. […] Edward Butler of the Henadology blog has collected many of the texts referring to Tayet for us here. Thank you, […]

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