Shu (Egyptian deity)

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Shu
God of the wind and air
Shu.svg
The ancient Egyptian god Shu is represented as a human with feathers on his head, as he is associated with light and air. This feather serves as the hieroglyphic sign for his name. Shu could also be represented as a lion, or with a more elaborate feathered headdress.[1]
Name in hieroglyphs
H6 G43 A40
Major cult center Heliopolis, Leontopolis
Symbol the ostrich feather
Consort Tefnut
Parents Ra and Iusaaset
Siblings Tefnut
Hathor
Sekhmet
Offspring Nut and Geb

Shu (/ʃ/; meaning "emptiness" and "he who rises up") was one of the primordial gods in Egyptian mythology, a personification of air, one of the Ennead of Heliopolis.

Family[edit]

He was created by Atum, his father and Iusaaset, his mother in the city of Heliopolis. With his sister Tefnut (moisture), he was the father of Nut and Geb. His daughter, Nut, was the sky goddess whom he held over the Earth (Geb), separating the two. The Egyptians believed that if Shu didn't hold his son and daughter (the god of the earth and the goddess of the sky) apart there would be no way life could be created.

Shu's grandchildren are Osiris, Isis, Set and Nephthys. His great-grandsons are Horus and Anubis.

Myths[edit]

Shu is shown holding the sky above his head.

As the air, Shu was considered to be cooling, and thus calming, influence, and pacifier. Due to the association with air, calm, and thus Ma'at (truth, justice and order), Shu was portrayed in art as wearing an ostrich feather. Shu was seen with between one and four feathers. The ostrich feather was symbolic of light and emptiness. Fog and clouds were also Shu's elements and they were often called his bones. Because of his position between the sky and earth, he was also known as the wind.[2]

In a much later myth, representing the terrible weather disaster at the end of the Old Kingdom, it was said that Tefnut and Shu once argued, and Tefnut left Egypt for Nubia (which was always more temperate). It was said that Shu quickly decided that he missed her, but she changed into a cat that destroyed any man or god that approached. Thoth, disguised, eventually succeeded in convincing her to return.

The Greeks associated Shu with Atlas, the primordial Titan who held up the celestial spheres,as they are both depicted holding the sky.[3]

The air god Shu separated the sky goddess Nut from the earth god, Geb. This treatment symbolized duality, the separation of the world into opposites: above and below, light and dark, good and evil. Shu is mostly represented by a man. Only in his function as a fighter and defender as the sun god does he sometimes receive a lion's head. In Egyptian mythology, Shu arrived as breath from the nose of the original god, Atum-Ra, together with his sister and wife, Tefnut, the moist air. The first pair of cosmic elements then created the sky goddess, Nut, and the earth god, Geb, who in turn created the deities Isis, Osiris, Nephthys and Set.[2]

He carries an ankh, the symbol of life.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wilkinson, Richard H. (2003). The complete gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt. London: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-05120-8. 
  2. ^ a b Owusu, Heike. Egyptian Symbols. Sterling Publishing Co. Inc. p. 99. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  3. ^ Remler, Pat (2010). Egyptian Mythology, A to Z. Infobase Publishing. p. 24. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 

Sources[edit]