Tawaret ("The Great One"; also rendered as Taurt, Taueret, Ta-weret, Taweret, Thoeris, Opet, Apet, Rert, or Reret) was a popular deity in ancient Egyptian mythology. She was a household deity who protected women during pregnancy and childbirth, in conjunction with another deity, Bes. Pregnant women wore amulets with her name or likeness.
She was depicted as an amalgam of human and animal: roughly humanoid and standing upright, but having the head of a hippopotamus with the arms and legs of a lion, the back and tail of a crocodile, and the pendulous breasts and large stomach of a pregnant woman. She also had a wig of long straight hair. She was often shown with one arm resting on the sa symbol, which symbolized protection, and on occasion also carried an ankh, the symbol of life. Her unusual appearance was reputed to ward off bad spirits.
The origins of the goddess are unclear, but Tawaret first came to prominence in the third millennium BC during the time of the Old Kingdom. She was known then by three names: Opet or Ipy ("favoured place"), Reret ("the sow") and Tawaret, the name by which she later became best known.
Tawaret was worshipped in people's homes rather than in temples. Personal amulets depicting the goddess were often worn or kept in the home, with images appearing on domestic items such as on beds, headrests and cosmetic articles. She was also depicted in temple reliefs in conjunction with other Egyptian deities, as well as in the Book of the Dead.
Tawaret was associated with the hippopotamus, one of the many sacred animals of the Egyptians. Through this connection, she was also associated with the northern sky, in which the hippopotamus was represented as a constellation, the present-day Draco. She was described as the "mistress of the horizon" when she was depicted on the ceiling of the tomb of Seti I in the Valley of the Kings.
The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum at San Jose, California has Tawaret at its entrance.