Maát is ethical principles collectively embracing the values of truth, justice, harmony, balance, cosmological order, reciprocity and propriety.
Personified as a goddess, Maát is depicted as a woman wearing an ostrich feather on her head, a symbol of the principles she represents. Controlling the movement of the stars and the seasonal flooding of the Nile River, Maát also had codes of tradition and customs. For all Egyptians to live in a happy, prosperous and peaceful environment, they had to live within the order established by Maát. The pharaoh, as absolute ruler, was the individual most responsible to manifest in life, through all his actions, the entire concept of Maát. Deviation from the tenets of Maát could prove disastrous for the pharaoh.
Maát was central to funerary practices in which if the deceased had been found to not have followed the concept of Maát during his life (if he had lied or cheated or killed or done anything against Maát) his heart was devoured by a demon (she was called Ammut -- Devouress of the Dead) and he died the final death. If the heart weighed the same as Maát, the deceased was allowed to go on to the afterlife. The heart of a person was considered the center of intellect and memory.
Statute of the Goddess Maát
Lapis Lazuli, Gold; Height 7.2 cm
Huber Collection, Khartoum
Ptolemaic Period (305-330 BC)
This symbolic weighing of the heart against the feather of truth (Maát) was performed to established the righteousness of the deceased. The scale of Maát was balanced after the recitation of the 42 Declarations of Innocence or Admonitions of Maát from the tomb of a Nubian. Book of the Dead of Maiherperi):
This is to said before the Forty-two gods on reaching the Hall of the Two Truths so as to purge (name) of any sins committed and to see the face of every god:
The Judgment of the Dead
The Declaration of Innocence
Hail to you, great God, Lord of the Two Truths!
I have come to you, my Lord,
I was brought to see your beauty.
I know you, I know the names of the forty-two gods,
Who are with you in the Hall of the Two Truths,
Who live by warding off evildoers,
Who drink of their blood,
On that day of judging characters before Wennofer.
Lo, your name is "He-of-Two-Daughters,"
Lo, I come before you,
Bringing Maat to you,
Having repelled evil for you.
The Goddess Maát
VIRTUES OF MAÁT
1. I have not committed sin.
2. I have not committed robbery with violence.
3. I have not stolen.
4. I have not slain men and women.
5. I have not stolen grain.
6. I have not purloined offerings.
7. I have not stolen the property of God.
8. I have not uttered lies.
9. I have not carried away food.
10. I have not uttered curses.
11. I have not committed adultery, I have not lain with men.
12. I have made none to weep.
13. I have not eaten the heart.
14. I have not attacked any man.
15. I am not a man of deceit.
16. I have not stolen cultivated land.
17. I have not been an eavesdropper.
18. I have not slandered [no man].
19. I have not been angry without just cause.
20. I have not debauched the wife of any man.
21. I have not debauched the wife of [any] man.
22. I have not polluted myself.
23. I have terrorized none.
24. I have not transgressed [the law].
25. I have not been wroth.
26. I have not shut my ears to the words of truth.
27. I have not blasphemed.
28. I am not a man of violence.
29. I have not been a stirrer up of strife.
30. I have not acted with undue haste.
31. I have not pried into matters.
32. I have not multiplied my words in speaking.
33. I have wronged none, I have done no evil.
34. I have not worked witchcraft against the king.
35. I have never stopped [the flow of] water.
36. I have never raised my voice.
37. I have not cursed God.
38. I have not acted with arrogance.
39. I have not stolen the bread of the gods.
40. I have not carried away the khenfu cakes from the Spirits of the dead.
41. I have not snatched away the bread of the child, nor treated with contempt the god of my city.
42. I have not slain the cattle belonging to the god.
The Declaration to the Forty-two Gods
O Wide-of-stride who comes from On: I have not done evil.
O Flame-grasper who comes from Kheraha: I have not robbed.
O Long-nosed who comes from Khbmun: I have not coveted.
O Shadow-eater who comes from the cave: I have not stolen.
O Savage-faced who comes from Rostau: I have not killed people.
O Lion-Twins who come from heaven: I have not trimmed the measure.
O Flint-eyed who comes from Khem: I have not cheated.
O Fiery-one who comes backward: I have not stolen a god's property.
O Bone-smasher who comes from Hnes: I have not told lies.
O Flame-thrower who comes from Memphis: I have not seized food.
O Cave-dweller who comes from the west: I have not sulked.
O White-toothed who comes from Lakeland: I have not trespassed.
O Blood-eater who comes from slaughterplace: I have not slain sacred cattle.
O Entrall-eater who comes from the tribunal: I have not extorted.
O Lord of Maat who comes from Maaty: I have not stolen bread rations.
O Wanderer who comes from Bubastis: I have not spied.
O Pale-one who comes from On: I have not prattled.
O Villain who comes from Anjdty: I have contended only for my goods.
O Fiend who comes from slaughterhouse: I have not committed adultery.
O Examiner who comes from Min's temple: I have not defiled myself.
O Chief of the nobles who comes from Imu: I have not caused fear.
O Wrecker who comes from Huy: I have not trespassed.
O Disturber who comes from the sanctuary: I have not been violent.
O Child who comes from the nome of On: I have not been deaf to Maat.
O Foreteller who comes from Wensi: I have not quarreled.
O Bastet who comes from the shrine: I have not winked.
O Backward-faced who comes from the pit: I have not copulated with a boy.
O Flame-footed who comes from the dusk: I have not been false.
O Dark-one who comes from darkness: I have not reviled.
O Peace-bringer who comes from Sais: I have not been aggressive.
O Many-faced who comes from Djefet: I have not had a hasty heart.
O Accuser who comes from Utjen: I have not attacked and reviled a god.
O Horned-one who comes from Siut: I have not made many words.
O Nefertem who comes from Memphis: I have not sinned, I have not done wrong.
O Timeless-one who comes from Djedu: I have not made trouble.
O Willful-one who comes from Tjebu: I have not waded in water.
O Flowing-one who comes from Nun: I have not raised my voice.
O Commander of people who comes from his shrine: I have not cursed a god.
O Benefactor who comes from Huy: I have not been boastful.
O Nehebkau who comes from the city: I have not been haughty.
O High-of-head who comes from the cave: I have not wanted more than I had.
O Captor who comes from the graveyard: I have not cursed god in my town.
The students aim in ancient Kemet (Egypt) was for a person to become "One with God." The path to the development of god-like qualities was through the development of virtues. These virtues were sought by the Kemites (Egyptians) to become one with Maát (the cosmic order).
Control of thoughts;
Control of actions;
Devotion of purpose;
Have faith in the ability of your teacher to teach you the truth;
Have faith in yourself to assimilate the truth;
Have faith in yourself to wield the truth;
Be free from resentment under the experience of persecution;
Be free from resentment under the experience of wrong;
Cultivate the ability to distinguish between right and wrong; and
Cultivate the ability to distinguish between the real and the unreal