Ma'at

Who Was She?

Egyptian Underworld
Egyptian Underworld: Paintings from the tomb of Petosiris at Muzawaka (ao). CC Flickr User isawnyu

Definition: Ma'at, who is symbolized by an ostrich feather or shown with one in her hair, is both a goddess, the daughter of the sun god Ra (Re), and an abstract. To the ancient Egyptians, Ma'at, everlasting and powerful, bound everything together in order. Ma'at represented truth, right, justice, world order, stability, and continuity. Ma'at represents harmony and unending cycles, Nile flooding, and the king of Egypt.

This cosmic outlook rejected the idea that the universe could ever be completely destroyed. Isft (chaos) is the opposite of Ma'at. Ma'at is credited with staving off Isft.

Humankind is expected to pursue justice and to operate according to the demands of Ma'at because to do otherwise is to encourage chaos. The king upholds the order of the universe by ruling well and serving the gods. From the fourth dynasty, pharaohs added "Possessor of Ma'at" to their titles. There is, however, no known temple to Ma'at prior to the New Kingdom.

Ma'at is similar to the Greek goddess of justice, Dike.

References:

  • "Maʿat and ΔIKH: Some Comparative Considerations of Egyptian and Greek Thought"
    Vincent Arieh Tobin
    Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt, Vol. 24, (1987), pp. 113-121
  • "Wisdom Motifs in Psalm 14 = 53: nābāl and 'ēṣāh"
    Robert A. Bennett
    Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (1975).
  • J Russell Versteeg "ancient Middle Eastern law" The New Oxford Companion to Law. by Peter Cane and Joanne Conaghan. Oxford University Press Inc.
  • Emily Teeter "Maat" The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. Ed. Donald B. Redford, Oxford University Press, Inc.

Alternate Spellings: Maat

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Gill, N.S. "Ma'at." ThoughtCo, Feb. 27, 2017, thoughtco.com/who-is-maat-119785. Gill, N.S. (2017, February 27). Ma'at. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/who-is-maat-119785 Gill, N.S. "Ma'at." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/who-is-maat-119785 (accessed January 21, 2018).