Shezmu: The Deity of Wine, Oil, Blood and Execution

Who the god Shezmu is?

In ancient Egypt, people believed in many gods and goddess. Shezmu was one of them. Ancient Egyptians believed that he is a deity of wine, oil, blood, and execution. There are different pronunciations of his name in ancient writings. These are Schezemu, Schesmu, Shesemu, Shezmou, Shesmou, Sezmu, Sesmu etc. All these refer to the same god.

Origin of the god

The antiquity of Shezmu went back to the time period of the Old Kingdom. As ‘cannibal hymn’ of the Pyramid Texts mentions Shezmu as a fearsome being. It drew a very cruel picture of the god. Because it tells that the god butchers and cooks the gods so that the pharaoh can get the power of those.

The comes to the Middle Kingdom. During this time, the Coffin texts mentioned the cruel and destructive image of the god. Apart from these, the later text of the Book of the Dead mentioned the connection of Shezmu with the nets which capture beings in the afterlife.

A different image of Shezmu

It was until the time period of the Middle Kingdom. Only the negative aspects of Shezmu came to be known. But the New Kingdom drew a new image of the god: his positive side. During this time, some new beliefs came. Shezmu became the provider of perfumes for the gods. He also became the god of wine and oil.

The Book of Dead also states that Shezmu gives you the best of the fowl if he is with you. So, this period witnessed the development of a beneficial image of Shezmu. Thus, in this way, his dual image of good and bad developed gradually.

The nature of the god

In ancient Egyptian religious pantheon, we can easily identify some special characteristics. Gods and goddesses having ‘dual nature’ of both ‘good and bad’ qualities is one remarkable characteristic. Because we can identify this characteristic in many important gods and goddesses. Shezmu has the same.

He has a dual nature. He has the power to bless his devotees as well as destroy them also. As he has both the power of light and darkness. Ancient Egyptians believed that all demons are not bad in nature. They called Shezmu a demon who had also good aspects.

The iconography of Shezmu

Iconographically speaking, the depiction of Shezmu in ancient Egyptian art is not frequently. Although usually, he is in an anthropomorphic form. Here his depiction is as the master of a press. Sometimes, his representation is also in leonine form. It probably reflects his ferocious nature. In some of the later representations, we can also see Shezmu in a ram-headed form.

shezmu the god of wine, blood, oil, execution

The cult of Shezmu

It was during the time period of the Middle Kingdom. The cult of Shezmu became well established. Later, the Ptolemaic period witnessed special respect for this god. As there are temples of this period where special rooms are provided dedicated to this god. Here, his main role is the master of perfumery. Such temples are Edfu and Dendera temples etc.