Tayet (Tait) was an ancient Egyptian goddess of weaving and the patron of weavers and those involved in the ritual of mummification. It is thought that her name derives from the word “shroud”. She was thought to craft the woven bandages used during the mummification process which were sometimes referred to as “the land of Tayet”.
In the the story of Sinuhe the pharaoh Senusret invites the elderly Sinhue to return to Egypt and promises him that he will be buried at home with all of the usual accouterments including “the wrappings from the hand of Tayet”.
Linen bandages were also used to bandage wounds and it was thought that Tayet could protect the injured person from a blood hemorrhage and ensure the cleanliness of the wound. Thus, she represented purity and perfection. In Denderah she is referred to as “she who purifies the Goddesses, who did spin of old and was the first to weave”.
It seems that Tayet was originally viewed as the spiritual mother of the pharaoh and the protector of his physical body. During the Old Kingdom, she was referenced in spells and prayers in the Pyramid Texts which were intended to protect the corpse of the king. She would “gather together the King’s bones, lest they become loose, and put the love of the King into the body of every God who shall see him”. However, as time progressed she was increasingly associated with linen bandages and with the “Wab” priests (sometimes known as the purification priests) who wore fine linen when discharging their duties.
She was associated with Nephthys and Neith and to a lesser extent Isis and Osiris because of her connection with mummification. Tayet also created the woven curtain which hung in the chamber where the ritual of embalming was conducted. This linked her with Ptah who was sometimes thought to have embroidered the design on the curtain. She was also associated with Shezmu (god of wine and oil presses) and Neper (god of grain) as well as the rather obscure Hedjhotep (a god of weaving who was sometimes described as her consort).
- Budge, E Wallis (1904) The Gods of the Egyptians
- Pinch, Geraldine (2002) Handbook Egyptian Mythology
- Wilkinson, Richard H. (2003) The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt
Copyright J Hill 2016