"Mistress of the House" (Nebet-het or Nebt-het in the
Egyptian Language), Nephthys is the "Friend of the Dead,"
and is first mentioned in Old Kingdom funerary literature
as riding the "night boat" of the underworld, meeting
the deceased king's spirit and accompanying him into "Lightland."
hair is metaphorically compared to the strips of cloth
which shroud the bodies of the dead.
is almost universally depicted as a woman with the hieroglyphic
symbols of her name (a basket and a house, stacked on
top of each other) situated atop her head, though she
can also be depicted as a bird (most often a kite or some
other form of falcon/hawk).
was associated with funerary rituals throughout ancient
Egyptian history and was venerated not as Death itself,
but as the companion who gives guidance to the newly deceased,
and as a Lady With Wings who comforts the deceased's living
is in most myths the youngest daughter of Nut,
sister of Isis and Osiris
and the sister-consort of Seth.
In later periods Nephthys is also considered to be the
mother of Anubis, a primordial form of the lord of the
dead who later became subservient to Osiris in the Egyptian
had connections with life as well as death -- she stood
at the head of the birth-bed to comfort and assist the
mother giving birth (while her sister, Isis, stood at
the foot to midwife the child).
our current Egyptological knowledge, Nephthys did not
have her own cult or temples in Egypt until the Ptolemaic-Roman
period; however, as her name is merely a title (the same
title given to the eldest woman in any ancient Egyptian
household), it is possible that Nephthys may be a specialized
form of another goddess; probable candidates include Bat
(as she is called the "Lady of Het," or "Nebt-het") and
Neith (with whom Nephthys is paired
in the canopic shrine quadrants, as Isis is with Serket,
who is sometimes seen to be an aspect of Isis.
being the "eldest of goddesses," along with her connection
with weaving and funerary garments lends credence to this
theory, as does the interchangeable depiction of Neith
and/or Nephthys in symmetrical transposition on a number
of Late Period temples.
name of Nephthys in hieroglyphs: