In the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt, you walk deep into the earth to find tombs of ancient Egyptian royalty.
Each tomb has a fascinating story, but the most awe-striking aspect of these 3,500-year-old structures is that the intricate artwork is still visible, and the paint is still vibrantly hued. My favorite tombs were the ones that had dark, inky, indigo-blue paintings of a nude woman, covered in stars, arched over everything else. When I learned this goddess’s story, I fell in love.
Photos weren’t allowed in the Valley of the Kings, but here is a depiction of Nut on the ceiling of a temple.
The Goddess Nut from ancient Egypt is the goddess of the sky, stars, mothers, and the universe. So – kind of a big deal. She is usually depicted stretched and arched out over the world on her toes and fingertips, her body filled with the stars of the night sky. During the day, heavenly bodies such as the sun and moon make their way across her body, and at dusk are swallowed and then reborn the next day at dawn.
Looking back, considering I had just found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I can understand why I felt such a connection to this goddess. It was a natural next step for me to find a hand-painted papyrus of Nut as usually depicted. I spent roughly an hour looking through various paintings at a papyrus store in Cairo before settling on the one I now have framed in my home.
Every morning while I brew my coffee, I look at Goddess Nut and reflect on the nature of birth, life, and death. She brings something a bit magical into my home, and it’s a way to feel connected to all living things.
Purchasing local art and crafts is my favorite way to keep part of my travels with me. In particular, there is a little corner in my room where I finish getting ready for the day and it is sprinkled with mementos of my travels.
The large artwork is another papyrus from Egypt. This is of the Tree of Life, one of the most important symbols in ancient Egypt. The birds represent the stages of life, starting with the bottom right bird for infancy, and as the birds get larger in a counter-clockwise direction they depict life through adulthood and full maturity. Ancient Egyptians believed life starts in the east with the rising sun, so the birds face the east until the last stage of life, which faces west. This painting is a nice reminder to take a moment for gratitude before starting the day.
Other fun souvenirs that I have sprinkled about are a turquoise scarab beetle also from Egypt, a clay pig from Chile, a jewelry dish from Istanbul, and a crystal bud vase from Germany passed down by my mother.
Every once in a while, I like to take my travel souvenirs and move them around the house to unexpected places. It freshens up my decor and is a way to spark cherished memories. I find myself doing that more often during the current shelter-in-place order, when I can’t travel yet dream of it constantly.
If you’re looking for a way to bring Egypt into your world right now, I recommend reading Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie. I brought it along on my trip and read it as I cruised the Nile River into Upper Egypt. It was the first Christie book that I’ve read and, while I can’t say it’s very educational, it certainly is a page-turner! I enjoyed reading about places that I was currently visiting, and am considering pulling it out again for a re-read.
Photo courtesy of Harper Collins, the publisher of this book.
Bonus: Death on the Nile is being made into a movie, scheduled to be released later this year!
In a time when it’s all too easy to feel enclosed, the artwork and trinkets in my home expand my mind and transport me back to Egypt.