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God of healing and beauty
Major cult center Memphis
Symbol the water-lily
Parents Ptah and Sekhmet
Siblings Maahes (in some accounts)

In Egyptian mythology, Nefertem (possibly translated as: 'the beautiful one who closes' or 'the one who does not close'; also read as Nefertum, Nefer-Tem, Nefer-Temu) was originally a lotus flower at the creation of the world, who had arisen from the primal waters.[1] Nefertem represented both the first sunlight (also often associated with the shapes of a lion or a falcon god; sunlight was also supposed to shine forth from the double high feathers from the deity's head, a usual aspect of his iconography) and the delightful smell of the Egyptian blue lotusflower having arisen from the primal waters within an Egyptian blue water-lily, Nymphaea caerulea. (This flower is widely used in Egyptian art, religion and literature. In much of the literature about ancient Egypt, it is called the "(blue) lotus".[2] However, the true lotus, Nelumbo nucifera, was not found in Egypt until the time of the Persian invasion, when it was introduced as a food crop. Some of the titles of Nefertem were "He Who is Beautiful" and "Water-Lily of the Sun", and a version of the Book of the Dead says,

"Rise like Nefertem from the blue water lily, to the nostrils of Ra (the creator and sungod), and come forth upon the horizon each day."

As the power of Memphis grew, their chief god, Ptah, was said to be the original creator, and thus of all the other gods, including any lesser creators, who create the remaining gods having first being created by Ptah. Consequently Nefertum came to be merely the son of Ptah, rather than a creator of light proper. As son of Ptah, it was said that either the lioness-deities Sekhmet, or Bastet (whichever was considered wife of Ptah), was his 'mother'. As a god now only associated with the highly aromatic blue water-lily rather than creation, he became a god of perfume and luck.

In art, Nefertum is usually depicted as a beautiful young man having blue water-lily flowers around his head. As the son of Bastet, he also sometimes has the head of a lion or is a lion or cat reclining. Nefertem was associated both with the scent of the blue water-lily flower and its supposed narcotic effect (widely presumed, but yet untested scientifically). The ancient Egyptians often carried small statuettes of him as good-luck charms.


  1. Nefertem page at Ancient Egypt: the Mythology retrieved June 21, 2008.
  2. Male Child Deities of Ancient Egypt at Tour Egypt retrieved June 21, 2008.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Nefertem. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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