Egypt: Tayet - Goddess of Weaving


Tayet was the goddess of weaving and the most crucial of her roles was providing woven cloth for embalming. In the letter which the pharaoh Senusret I sends to Sinuhe, an ex-harem official, inviting him back to Egypt after a long sojourn abroad, there is a fine passage evoking the rituals of the funerary cult. It provides that after Sinuhe's death there will be a night of unguents and "wrappings from the hand of Tayer. This refers to the mummy bandages of the embalmers that keep the corpse intact. In the Old Kingdom a prayer was addressed to the goddess to guard the king's head and gather his bones. Tayet also weaves the curtain (embroidered by the god Ptah) which hangs in the tent of purification where the ritual of embalmment is carried out.

In daily life, linen bandages were used sparingly for medical purposes. One spell that has come down to us had to be recited over threads of fabric. It was meant to prevent hemorrhage and the resulting defilement of the purity of the "land of Tayer", meaning the bandages.