God Khnum

An imposing sculptural image of one of the major deities of the Egyptian pantheon, the god Khnum.

Khnum is an ancient Egyptian god who was the God of the Nile inundation from Elephantine where he guarded the first cataract. Khnum name also spelled as Chnum, Knum, or Khnemu and he is one of the oldest Egyptian gods. He is also known as Chnoumis in Greek and his name ‘Khnum’ means “builder”.

His name Khnum means to create, so he was referred as a creator god. He moulds people out of mud from the Nile on a potter’s wheel, Ra shine upon them by his life giving ray, and later placed them in their mothers’ womb. He was called “the Great Potter”.

Khnum appearance portrayed as a ram headed man and holding scepter and the ankh in his hand. Sometimes, he also depicted as a bull-headed man at a potter’s wheel.

In Elephantine, since Khnum was the god of the Nile, he was regarded as the husband of Satis (the Goddess of the Inundation) and the father of Anuket (the Goddess of the Nile). On the other hand, in Esna, due to his aspect as creator of the body, was regarded as the husband of Menhit (Lion-headed War Goddess) and the father of Heka (God of Magic and Medicine).

Khnum was recognized since Dynasty 3 and worshipped throughout Nubia and Egypt. His cult centers were built in Elephantine, Sunnu, Abu, Philae and Semnut.

The technique of lost wax casting is a sculptural procedure using a mould made from a prototype of the piece to be worked, and this prototype is usually made from beeswax. This is covered with a thick layer of soft material, usually clay, which then solidifies. Once this has hardened it is put in a kiln where the wax inside melts and leaks out through expressly made holes in the clay. In its place molten metal is injected and this takes on the exact form of the mould. To release the final piece the mould must be removed.


- WILKINSON H. R. The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt. London. 2003.

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