Ahy (Ihy) – Origin Story, Powers, Worship, Symbols, & Meaning

Ihy god

Ahy (Ihy) was a minor ancient deity whose sphere of influence covered music and musicians

In ancient Egypt, if a performer or musician were having difficulty performing to his best, he/she would beseech the god Ihy, the ancient Egyptian god of music and musicians.

Primarily worshiped in the Temple of Hathor in Dendera, Ihy was believed to be the son of Egyptian deities Hathor and Horus. In a different myth, the sun god Ra (Re) was seen as his father.

Fast Facts

Mother: Hathor

Father: Horus

Siblings: Four Sons of Horus – Imseti, Duamutef, Hapy, Qebehsenuef

Symbols: necklace, sistrum, sidelock

Meaning: Sistrum Player

Epithets: “sistrum-player”

Ihy’s association with music

It was also not uncommon for musicians to carry Ihy amulets and wear Ihy tattoos in an attempt to be more creative musically. This god embodied the satisfaction Egyptians received from playing the musical instrument sistrum. As a matter of fact, his name translates to “sistrum player”. Also, his name generally evokes a sense of ecstasy, jubilation and enjoyment.

It, therefore, stands to reason that the sistrum became an important symbol of Ihy. The necklace was also another important symbol of the god.

Depiction

Ihy symbols and depiction | Ihy was a minor ancient Egyptian god whose worship was scarce outside Dendera in ancient Egypt

The commonest depiction of Ihy sees him as a young boy with a very imposing sidelock and a curly hair. In his right hand is the musical instrument sistrum. He is also often shown donning a necklace while he appears to have one of his fingers in his mouth.

Ihy and Khnum, the Divine Potter

The god Khnum, accompanied by Heqet, molds Ihy in a relief from the mammisi (birth temple), Dendera Temple complex, Dendera, ancient Egypt

In almost every depiction of Ihy, the god appears stark naked. In one depiction, a relief from the Dendera Temple complex, the god Khnum is seen, in the presence of the fertility goddess Heket (Heqet), molding what appears to be the god Ihy.

Khnum, the god of the source of the Nile River, was famous as the “Divine Potter” who molded the bodies of human children as well as some gods at his potter’s wheel. He was usually aided by his wife/consort Heqet, the frog-headed goddess of fertility.

Ihy and Hathor

Being the son of the Hathor, ancient Egyptian sky goddess, Ihy received a lot of reverence from Hathor’s worshipers at the Dendera ’s primar

The Temple of Hathor was famous for celebrating the birth of Ihy about nine months after the Festival of the Beautiful Reunion. According to the myths, Ihy was conceived shortly after Hathor visited Horus.

Association with other Egyptian deities

It’s been stated that Ihy’s association with the sistrum stems from his relationship with his mother, the goddess Hathor. He was also associated with other ancient Egyptian deities such as Neith, the mother goddess, Isis, and Sekhmet. In some accounts, those three deities were considered his mothers.

Ihy god

He received reasonable level of reverence and worship at the Temple of Hathor in Dendera. The dominant building in the complex is the Temple of Hathor | Image: Temple of Hathor in Dendera

More facts

  • His name is mentioned in a number of ancient Egyptian texts, including the Book of the Dead and the Coffin Texts. He is called “Lord of Bread” in the Book of the Dead.
  • One of Rome’s greatest emperors Caesar Augustus is said to have established a maternity ward in the Temple of Hathor. The walls of the ward featured a number of reliefs and paintings of Ihy and his birth.
  • Another name of this ancient Egyptian god is Ahy.
  • There were hardly any temples dedicated to Ihy, with the exclusion of the one he had at his mother’s temple,  Hathor’s Temple in Dendera.

Bibliography

  • Pinch, Geraldine (2002) Handbook Egyptian Mythology
  • Wilkinson, Richard H. (2003) The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt

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