top of page

Nefretum- the god of perfume & The Egyptians' passion for perfume transcended the limits of matter

In the magical realm of ancient Egypt, where perfume was more than just a fragrance but a bridge between the earthly and the divine, emerged the enigmatic figure of Nefertum . Nefertum, the goddess of perfume and beauty, personified the mysteries and transcendent essence that the Egyptians believed and knew to be contained in aromatic fragrances. Holding lotus flowers in her hands, a symbol of purity and rebirth, she embodied the power of spiritual transformation that perfume brought with it.

This deity was considered the god of youth, beauty, rebirth and perfume. Nefertum was often portrayed as a youth with a lotus or wreath, symbolizing her connection to regeneration and vitality.

photography: pintrest source

Its association with the lotus was particularly important, as the lotus was a symbol of rebirth and renewal.

photography: pintrest source

The lotus grows on the banks of the Nile, emerging from the muddy waters to bloom in all its beauty. This was seen as a representation of the cycle of life, death and rebirth, and Nefertum was linked to this power of renewal.

Nefertum was also related to the creation of the rising sun, being said to have emerged from the water lily that opened to receive the first ray of sunlight. This association with the rising sun connected him to the idea of a new beginning every dawn.

In addition to her connection to rebirth and youth, Nefertum was also associated with perfume and fragrances. The Egyptians believedthat the scents of flowers and plants had magical and spiritual properties, and Nefertum personified this relationship between fragrance and the divine.

The Egyptians' passion for perfume transcended the limits of matter, reaching the spiritual realms.

Scents were much more than just adornments, they were carriers of messages to the gods and a way to connect with the divine. In the shadowy chambers of temples, priests performed meticulous rituals of anointing , using the aromatic oils to anoint divine statues, creating an atmosphere permeated by a perfume that transcended the human senses.

Perfume was a bridge between worlds, a tangible manifestation of the sacred that permeated everyday life and religious rituals. It was used in moments of devotion, celebration and even passing through. In funeral rites, the dead were anointed with precious aromatic oils as a gesture of preparation for the spiritual journey beyond this life. It was believed that scents not only honored the gods, but also accompanied souls on their after-death journey, guiding them through the unknown.

The Egyptians mastered several techniques to extract the precious aromas from plants. The distillation, although not known in this context (it was later developed by the Arabs), gave way to methods such as infusion and enfleurage. Through these time-consuming and delicate processes they captured their essential oils in a delicate embrace. These resulting oils were then used to create the precious fragrances that permeated Egyptian life.

Photography: Teresa Feijó proceeding with the enfluerage method

The extraction of aromas was intrinsically ritualized. It was performed with reverence and care, with the priests often reciting prayers as they handled the plants and oils .

The creation of perfumes was a form of spiritual alchemy, a way of channeling the mystical properties of plants to uplift the spirit and mind.

Teresa Feijó

Perfume, thus, was not just an accessory in ancient Egypt, but a portal to the divine world. It permeated every aspect of life, from temple rituals to personal care. It was a spiritual language, a way to communicate with the gods and honor the forces that governed the universe.

image author: teresa feijó

Nefertum, the god of perfume, symbolized that intimate connection between the earthly and the divine, where scents were the invisible threads that linked man to the gods and beyond.

Author: Teresa Feijó



bottom of page