WK42 Sekhmet amulet
Shows Sekhmet holding a staff and with a cobra headdress. It is made from faience.
Although we have called this a ‘Sekhmet amulet’, and indeed amulets of feline-headed goddesses are often so categorised, strictly speaking it could be one of a number of feline-headed goddesses: Bastet, Mut, Wadjyt, etc. All were daughters of the sun-god Re. The feline head may be either a cat or a lioness. If a cat it is more likely to reflect the passive, nurturing aspect of the goddess, if a lioness, it is more likely to show her aggressive side.
The addition of the uraeus cobra may possibly be to reinforce the aggressive or protective side of the goddess and to show her as the Eye of Re, a daughter of the sun-god.
The Egyptians may not have minded exactly which goddess was intended. Indeed, in the New Kingdom tale of the Return of the Distant Goddess (time of Tutankhamun), the aggressive goddess Sekhmet is changed into the gentle goddess Hathor by plying her with alcohol! Additionally the Egyptians commented on the dual nature of the female comparing her to the goddesses. In the Late Period Instruction of Akhsheshonk is written: When a man smells myrrh his wife is a cat beside him. When a man is suffering, his wife is a lioness before him.