Ihy the Musician and Perfect Child of the Goddess Hathor

Ihy, whose name means “sistrum player” or “musician” was the personification of the joy associated with the use of this sacred instrument. He was also the “perfect child” and had an impressive lineage. His mother was mostly considered to be Hathor, known as the “Lady of Dance” among other epithets, however he was also regarded closely aligned with a few other deities including Aset, Nephthys and Sekhmet. Horus was most frequently considered to be his father, but he was also said to be the child of Re.Whatever his lineage, Ihy was most often thought of as a symbol of the joyful celebration of music and when combined with his role in the worship of Hathor he transformed into a god of pleasure, lust and fertility. He was also known as the “Lord of Bread,” who was in charge of beer. Many Egyptians believed that to communicate with Hathor they must first become intoxicated and through the worship of Ihy in this role, they could reach his mother

His close connection to his mother became the symbol of devotion between a mother and a child. Because Hathor was known as the cow goddess, it was natural for Ihy to become her calf. Ancient Egyptians would often use an “Ihy” or calf when moving cattle across a river. The Ihy calf would be placed in a boat and the mother of the calf would then follow the boat, leading the heard across the river.

Ihy was typically depicted as a naked boy with curly hair on his head, wearing a necklace and holding a sistrum. Even though a child, he is not always depicted in a diminutive size, and may be shown at the same scale as his mother and other deities when he appears in the same scene. He was worshipped along with Horus and Hathor at Dendera. A very early Predynastic shrine specifically dedicated to Hathor and Ihy was built at Dendera and then rebuilt by the 4th Dynasty Pharaoh, Khufu.

Dendera Temple

On January 12th and 13th we honor Ihy and Hathor, Joyful Musician and the Lady of Dance.