Iah: The Lunar God

Who the God Iah is?

Iah or Aah or Yah is an ancient Egyptian god. He is a lunar god as the meaning of the word ‘Iah’ is ‘moon’. During the initial stage of development, Iah emerged as an independent god. But he was later absorbed by another important ancient Egyptian moon god, Khonsu. According to some researchers, Iah is the adult form of the moon god, Khonsu.

Iah the god of moon

The mythology of God Iah

There is interesting mythology associated with the god Iah. It tells us the story about the creation of the world. According to mythology, the supreme god Atum got angered by the forbidden relationship between Nut, the goddess of Sky and Geb, the god of Earth. Thus, he separated them and crushed Nut that she would not be able to give birth to her children on any single day of the year.

So, things became really very chaotic regarding this incident. The God of Wisdom, Thoth took entry to the scene and managed the situation wisely. Here, ‘Iah’ played an important role. Thoth took the risky action of playing a game with Iah with the hope of success for five days worth of moonlight. He won the game and divided the moonlight into days. This time, it came against Atum. HE could d nothing regarding this. Because, these days were not those days, designed and supported by Atum. These days came from the moon god, not from the sun god.

Thoth the god of wisdom and knowledge

So, it removes the barrier for Nut to conceive a child. Thus, she gave birth to five children namely Osiris, Isis, Seth, Nephthys, and Horus the Elder in five different days. These five deities played major role in shaping the mythological discourse of ancient Egypt. In fact, ancient Egyptians incorporated these five days into their calendar and regarded them as five ‘magical days’. So, it shows that this mythology was really an important one and Iah played as a ‘catalyst; in this mythology.

How does Iah appear in Egyptian art?

We can trace the appearance of Iah in Egyptian amulets. During the later periods, his appearance came with a standing posture of a man. He wore the full and crescent moon symbols. Here also we can see his resemblance with Khonsu as this iconography is almost similar to that of Khonsu. But, in the case of Iah, these moon-related symbols are surmounted by an Atef crown with another disk above it. He also has the divine beard, a common feature in ancient Egyptian art. Sometimes he wears a long tripartite wig and carries a tall staff.

Sometimes, a combined form of Iah and Khonsu is depicted. Here, the appearance is with an Ibis-headed man. The ‘Book of Dead’ also mentions his existence where he says, “I am the moon-god Aah, the dweller among the gods”.