Who were the Kites of Nephthys in ancient Egypt?
The term “Kites of Nephthys” refers to a particular representation and role of the goddess Nephthys, one of the chief deities in the ancient Egyptian pantheon.
Below, World History Edu provides a quick explanation of these figures in ancient Egypt:
Nephthys in Egyptian Mythology
Nephthys is often identified as the sister of Isis, Osiris, and Set, and she played significant roles in various myths, particularly in the Osiris myth where she assists Isis in mourning and searching for the dismembered body of Osiris.
READ MORE: The Myth of Isis and Osiris
The word “kite” in this context does not refer to the flying object, but rather to a type of bird, specifically a type of hawk or falcon. Both Isis and Nephthys were sometimes depicted as these birds, hovering over the body of Osiris or other deceased individuals, symbolizing protection, revitalization, and mourning.
Role and Symbolism
As “Kites,” both Isis and Nephthys were seen as protective mourners. They would be depicted as birds flanking the deceased, often shown either hovering over or closely associated with mummies, providing protection and ensuring a safe passage to the afterlife.
Images of Isis and Nephthys as Kites were common in funerary contexts. Their protective role was believed to be vital for the deceased’s rebirth in the afterlife.
Connection with Rituals
Ritual lamentations performed by priestesses during funerary rites might have been associated with the mourning roles of Isis and Nephthys. The wailing and protective actions of these priestesses could have been seen as an earthly manifestation of the protective Kites of Nephthys and Isis.
Questions and Answers
What did the Kites of Nephthys do?
After mummification and tomb preparation, the funeral celebrated the deceased’s life and mourned their loss. Regardless of the deceased’s popularity, the funeral procession always included paid female mourners known as Kites of Nephthys.
These women loudly sang The Lamentation of Isis and Nephthys, a song rooted in the myth of the two goddesses mourning Osiris’s death. Their lamentations aimed to evoke emotional outpouring from other funeral attendees, facilitating genuine expressions of grief.
In ancient Egyptian beliefs, actively remembering and mourning the deceased was crucial, as it was thought that such profound sorrow on Earth might resonate in the Hall of Truth (or Hall of Osiris), the destination of the departed soul.
What are the lamentations of Isis and Nephthys?
“The Lamentation of Isis and Nephthys” is an ancient Egyptian text that captures the mourning and grieving of the two goddesses, Isis and Nephthys, over the death of their brother, Osiris. Osiris, in Egyptian mythology, was a major god associated with death, rebirth, and fertility, who was murdered and dismembered by his brother Set. His wife, Isis, and sister, Nephthys, went in search of his body parts and played a pivotal role in his resurrection.