Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Aten Icon

     A fascinating paper given by Gay Robins at the annual ARCE convention noted several interesting things about representations of the sun gods of Egypt, including the Aten. For instance, the winged sun disk, which is a common representation of the sun god is shown with the wings covering representations of gods and kings, but private persons are often not covered by one of the god’s wings. If a stela shows a king or god on one side of a “picture” and a nobleman on the other, the winged sun disk will often have only one wing, which extends over the representation of the god.  On some stelae, the one wing of the sun covers the king or god, while the eye of Horus is shown over the private person. I had noted the “one-winged” sun disks in the past, but did not understand why this was done until now.

     The Aten is always shown extending its rays to the King and Queen, even Akhenaten’s daughters do not have the rays of the Aten extending to them. The Aten’s rays are shown with hands at the end holding an Ankh to the noses of the King and Queen. What is the significance of the hands? One possibility lies in the legend of Atum, who created the divinities Shu and Tefnut by masturbating. The Egyptian word for hand is feminine and the “God’s Wife of Amun” is sometimes referred to as “The God’s Hand”.  Possibly the hands of the Aten have a relation to the reproductive power of the Aten?

No comments:

Post a Comment