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Friday, 7 December 2007

The Egyptian Symbol: Sky

The hieroglyph that represented the sky depicted the heavens as a physical ceiling with the edges dropping down at the edges, to replicate the illusion of the sky reaching down to the horizon. It was often shown decorated with stars, to mirror reality.

The sky was a popular motif in various architectural motifs, especially in Egyptian tombs. The ceiling of tombs were often painted blue and decorated with golden stars. It was also placed at the top of walls, door frames and gateways to symbolize the heavens overhead. The arching top of funerary stelae also suggested the curvature of the sky.

The sky was personified by the goddess Nut, who was believed to arch her body over the earth. She held herself up on the tips of her fingers and toes. She was supported by her father Shu and other miscellaneous deities. These attendants were symbolized by the was scepters in a geometric framing device incorporating the sky and the earth. In the New Kingdom and the Late Periods, the king was often shown holding up the sky hieroglyph, and therefore symbolically upholding the gods and Ma'at.