Ma'at

Ma'at
1 record
Ma'at: embodiment of truth and right order

The goddess Ma’at was the personification of the ancient Egyptian concept of justice, truth, balance, and order. She represents the divine order and balance the creator god set up against the forces of chaos at the time of first creation. Even though the creator god established ma’at, chaos still existed in the world and therefore the Egyptians believed that ma’at must be constantly maintained in order to keep chaos at bay. The all important duty of preserving ma’at fell to the king, whose job it was to oversee the temples, the building of new monuments, and worship of the gods. By fulfilling these duties, the king ensured that ma’at continued to suppress the forces of chaos.

Ma’at is most often shown as a seated woman with an ostrich feather on her head. In some cases, the feather alone could represent the goddess. Many times the king is shown offering a small image of the seated goddess ma’at to the gods. Ma’at also played a role in the Weighing of the Heart scene of the Book of the Dead. When the deceased was judged his or her heart was placed on the scales of justice and weighed against ma’at. In this context, ma’at could be represented as a seated goddess with the feather on her head or simply as the feather. If the deceased’s heart proved to be lighter than the feather of Ma’at, he or she was allowed to pass into the afterlife. Those whose heavy hearts tipped the scales were immediately devoured by a monster.