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Deities & Heros >> Egyptian
linen bandages, patron deity, mummy wrappings, early dynastic period


Author: Mirjam

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Nit (Gr: Neith) Local goddess of Zau (Gr: Sais), known as early as the Predynastic and Early Dynastic Period when her influence probably was at its height. Earliest traces are her hieroglyph (crossed arrows on a shield) on a pole in front of the reed shrines and on pottery from Dynasty I in Abydos. Nit is sometimes a goddess of war, sometimes the patroness of weawing, a mortuary goddess and in later times an androgynous Creator goddess. Her function as a deity of war is probably the earliest one, mainly shown by her attributes the bow, shield and arrows. She blessed the hunter´s weapons and in early times weapons were laid as protection around coffins. Even before the unification of the two countries she was the most important deity of Lower Egypt and therefore the red crown made of reeds, also called Nit, became the symbol of Lower Egypt. She is called 'the Terrifying One' and as a mortuary deity she protects the king; together with Aset, Serket and Nebt-Het she watches over the canopic jars. In this company she also watched over Wesir´s bier. Through her capacity of patron deity of weawing, the mummy wrappings and linen bandages gave power to the deceased as they were a gift from her, but the hieroglyph often called a weaver's shuttle has not yet been satisfactorily verified. In this context the myth tells of her intervention when Aset and Nebt-Het are forced to work by Set. Through the negotiations of Djehuty (Thoth) Nit agreed to let her own weavers take their places so they could be freed from the imprisonment of Set. In another myth, the 'Contendings of Heru and Set' she is called upon by the other gods to judge in the conflict because of her great wisdom. During the Third Intermediate she was a national deity and considered the spouse of Khnum at Esna, which she remained into the Ptolemaic times, several depictions of her is found here as well as of her sacred lates-fish, and at Abydos she was connected to the rites of renewal of the king´s power. In the Late period her cult center was at Zau (Gr: Sais), in Lower Egypt. She was then seen as the mother of Sobek and of Re, and therefore given the epithet 'Mother of Gods'. It is thought her name has associations with water - Nit - Nun - Nunet, and in later times she was regarded as a primeval deity with both male and female properties. At this time she was called 'Father of the Fathers' and 'Mother of the Mothers'. During the 26th Dynasty she was the local goddess of Zau. This position made her so powerful that she was incorporated into the Greek and Roman pantheon and associated with their Athena and Diana.

Main center of worship:

Sais/Zau 5th Nome, Lower Egypt

Other sites:

Probably one in 4th Nome, name unknown, Lower Egypt

Naukratis, 7th Nome, Lower Egypt

Iunyt/Latopolis, 2nd Nome, Upper Egypt

Festivals: (exact dates not historically verified)

7th September - 21st Paopi - Neith Goes forth to Atum

13th September - 27th Paopi - Festival of lighting the fires

of Neith

8th December - 23rd Tybi - Feast of Neith

26th December - 11th Mechir - Feast of Neith

19th January - 5th Pamenot - The brilliant festival of Lights

as Neith Goes Forth from Sais

10th May - 26th Payni - Going Forth of Neith along the river