Noms : Nefertoum, Nefertum, Nefertem.... signifie "divinité à l'odeur agréable".

Représentations : Homme couronné d'une fleur de Lotus, ou de plumes, parfois homme à tête de lion.

Domaines : très différents selon les courants
- Dieu des parfums
- Dieu présent lors de la création (fils de Ptah le démiurge)

- Dieu guerrier sous l'aspect lion (fils de Sekhmet)
- Aspect de Rê, renaissance perpétuelle du Soleil

Première approche (lien source)

Le dieu Néfertem "divinité à l'odeur agréable" est généralement vénéré sous la forme d'une fleur de lotus bleu, c'est le dieu-lotus, fils de Ptah et de Sekhmet. Néfertoum semble représenter d'avantage l'odeur agréable du lotus, que la fleur elle-même comme en témoigne un passage des textes des pyramides.

Etroitement lié au culte du dieu solaire Rê, c'est le fils du dieu solaire, il est en rapport avec la renaissance perpétuelle du disque solaire.

Néfertem peut être représenté sous la forme d'un homme portant le symbole de la fleur de lotus, avec une couronne de plumes, il est également représenté sous la forme d'un lion, il devient alors un gardien redoutable des frontières orientales de l’Egypte.

Il fait partie des 42 juges du tribunal d'Osiris d'après le livre des morts, il y représente Memphis.

Associé au dieu Ptah, et à la déesse Sekhmet il forment la triade de Memphis. Ses liens avec sa mère Sekhmet font également de lui un dieu à caractère guerrier, sous la forme d'un lion, il massacre ses ennemis, il est assimilé sous cette forme au dieu Mahes, qui à l'identique est le fils de la déesse Sekhmet ou encore de la déesse Bastet.

Néfertoum peut être représenté sous huit aspects différents; un taureau, un lotus, un homme avec un lotus ouvert sur la tête, une momie à tête de lion, une momie avec une tête de lotus, un homme debout sur un lion, un homme assis sur un trône couronné d'une fleur de lotus, ou encore un homme marchant.

Petite synthèse (lien source)

Nefertem was an ancient sun-god of Lower Egypt. He was important to various creation myths. Nefertem was associated with the young boy (Atum) who emerged from the lotus of Nun at the beginning of time. It was this boy that shed the tears from which all of mankind emerged. Due to this relationship, Nefertem was often called "the young Atum".

The lotus from which Nefertem emerged was sacred to him from the earliest times. He was almost always depicted as a man wearing the lotus and two plumes on his head. It was said that Nefertem brought Re a sacred lotus to ease his suffering.

Nefertem was a member of the holy triad of Memphis. He was the son of the god Ptah and the goddess Sekhmet. In Buto, he was called the son of the cobra-goddess Buto.

In art, Nefertem was usually portrayed as a man wearing the lotus and two feathers on his head, sometimes this elaborate headdress also included two menet necklaces. Occasionally, Nefertem was also shown as a lion-headed man.

Ancient Egypt Online (lien source)

Nefertum (Nefertem, Nefertemu) was originally considered to be an aspect of Atum. According to one version of the creation story of the Ennead in Heliopolis, Nefertum (translated as beautiful Atum, or perfect Atum) was born from a blue lotus bud which emerged from the waters of Nun at the beginning of creation. Atum represented the sun and so Nefertum represented the sunrise. He cried because he was alone and his tears created humanity. It was thought that he was born with every sunrise, matured into Atum during the day before passing into the world of the dead every sunset. The cycle of birth in the morning and death every evening (as the sun travelled through the underworld) represented the daily struggle between Chaos and Order (Ma'at).

When Atum was absorbed by Ra (Atum-Ra), Nefertum came to be considered as a seperate deity, still closely associated with the newborn sun. Then Ptah was promoted to the chief national god and proclaimed the ultimate creator, and Nefertum was described as his son by either Sekhmet or Bast (both "Daughters of Ra"). However, as the son of Ptah, he also became patron of the cosmetic and healing arts derived from flowers. Thus, Nefertum was seen as both an aspect of the sun god, and also his grandson.

He was most closely associated with the blue lotus, a flower with narcotic properties. According to one legend, he brought a bouquet of beautiful lotuses to the aging Ra to ease his suffering. As a result, he was described in the Pyramid Texts as "the lotus blossom which is before the nose of Re". Nefertem was linked both to the pleasant scent of the lotus flower and to its medical properties (which were well known to the ancient Egyptians). He was also associated with a number of the Egyptians favourite flowers, such as rose, geranium and cornflower. In fact, he could be described as the archetypal aromatherapist.

He was also linked to rebirth, both as a personification of the newborn sun and as the patron of many of the necessary ingredients of the mummification process. A passage of the Book of the Dead says the blessed dead will "Rise like Nefertum from the lotus, to the nostrils of Ra, and come forth upon the horizon each day".

Nefertum was usually depicted as a beautiful young man wearing a lotus headdress, sometimes standing on the back of a lion. He occasionally wears a headdress with two plumes and two necklace counterpoises which were symbols of fertility associated with Hathor (who in turn was closely associated with both of the goddesses described as his mother - Sekhmet and Bast). He was sometimes depicted as a man with the head of a lion or as a reclining lion or cat. In this form he was associated with the lion god Maahes who may have been his brother, but may also have been an aspect of Nefertum. As the newborn sun he was generally depicted as a beautiful baby sitting in or on a lotus bud.

He was known as "He Who is Beautiful" and "Water Lily of the Sun" and he was held in great affection. Egyptians often carried small statuettes of him as good-luck charms.

Henadology (lien source)

(Nefertem) Nefertum’s name is most likely to be interpreted as “that which is beautifully completed,” that is, perfected or actualized (the -tum ending is the same as the name of Atum). The consistent element in his iconography is the blue lotus, Nymphaea caerulea, which was highly popular in Egypt for decoration, for its fragrance, and as offerings to the Gods. It has also recently been alleged that the blue lotus may have been used as a narcotic, though this has now been disputed (Counsell 2008). Whatever may be the truth of this claim, the smelling of the lotus flower is used in Egyptian iconography to symbolize the enjoyment of sensual pleasure in its most exalted form. In PT utterance 249 Nefertum is “the lotus-bloom which is at the nose of Re,” who “will issue from the horizon daily and the Gods will be cleansed at the sight of him.” In this utterance the deceased king identifies himself with Nefertum: “I am this zeshzesh-flower [lotus] which sprang up from the earth [BD spell 174: "I am this lotus that shines in the earth"] … and I am at the nose of the Great Power.” The lotus, as a flower that grows in water, symbolizes the emergence of the cosmos from the watery abyss and the beauty of the forms borne upon its ever-shifting surface. Regarding these forms, the Egyptians do not emphasize their aspect of impermanence, but rather their aspect of being always new, and therefore signify them through deities depicted in the form of children. PT utterance 307 speaks of the formative era “when Re was ruler of the Two Enneads and the ruler of the plebs was Nefertum.” Here Re’s sovereignty over the Gods (signified in the unknown number of their totality by the idealization ‘Two Enneads’) is paralleled in the realm of mortals by the sovereignty of Nefertum during the childhood of humanity. However, it may be the implication of impermanence, of fleetingness, that makes of Nefertum at times an object of apprehension. Thus in CT spell 335, Re is asked to save the operator from “that God whose shape is hidden … who puts bonds on the evildoers at his slaughterhouse, who kills souls,” which is explained in one of the ancient commentaries as referring to “Nefertum, son of Sekhmet the Great [or 'son of Bast' in one of the glosses from the version in BD spell 17], he who uses his arm,” i.e. to smite. Nefertum can be depicted as a man wearing a lotus headdress or as a child seated on a lotus, or as a lion-headed man or a lion devouring an enemy. In these leonine forms Nefertum has often a hawk on his head which itself wears the lotus headdress. Nefertum may also be mummiform, or carrying a curved sword or khepesh, or standing on a recumbent lion. He is most often considered the son of Sekhmet and Ptah, but also frequently of Bast, a connection which is probably responsible for his occasional depiction accompanied by a cat.

CT spell 295, for “becoming a scribe of the altars of Hathor,” names this scribe as Ihmos, “son of Nefertum.” The association with Nefertum makes sense for one who is, as it were, tallying the things consecrated to the Goddess of beauty and pleasure. CT spell 571, “To build a mansion among the waters,” states that “As for these mansions among the waters of sky and earth, if my wish to come to them be not granted, sky and earth will be trodden down,” and “the hebennet which is in front of the house of Nefertum will be trodden down,” the hebennet being a type of offering-cake (mentioned as well in CT spell 39 and PT utterance 158). The point in such a statement is not to pose a threat, but to establish an equivalency. The permanent position which the operator seeks amidst the waters is itself the offering which is rendered to Nefertum; its impossibility would render impossible, in turn, the recognition of Nefertum’s divinity, if we understand him to embody the idealized beauty and perfection of things in themselves impermanent. Assuming the form of the lotus, which is smelled and enjoyed by the Gods themselves, is to constitute this offering. Hence BD spell 81, for “assuming the form of a lotus,” has the operator affirm that “I am this pure lotus that has ascended by the sunlight and is at Re’s nose. I spend my time shedding the sunlight on Horus. I am the pure lotus that ascended from the field.” Here the lotus of Nefertum is an intermediary between Re, the principle of cosmic order, and Horus, the principle of social order, vindicator of his father, that is, of the mortal as such. To identify with the lotus in this context is thus to identify with what is most noble and holy in mortal being, and which gratifies the Gods themselves.

Allen, T. G. 1974. The Book of the Dead or Going Forth by Day. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. [BD]

Counsell, David J. 2008. “Intoxicants in Ancient Egypt? opium, nymphea, coca and tobacco.” Pp. 195-215 in A. R. David, ed., Egyptian Mummies and Modern Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Faulkner, R. O. 1969. The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [PT]
Faulkner, R. O. 1973-8. The Ancient Egyptian Coffin Texts. 3 vols. Warminster: Aris & Phillips Ltd. [CT].

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