African Royalty Series: The Story of the Pharaohs

The word pharaoh means “Great House”, which is a reference to the palace where the pharaohs lived. The original title given to the Egyptian rulers was King, but the name Pharaoh stuck in time. These kings were considered divine emissaries and mediated between the gods and the people of Egypt. They performed religious and civic duties and were their time’s chief lawmakers and military custodians. The name pharaoh became the symbol of respect for the Egyptian King under the New Kingdom, which started in the 18th dynasty, and by the 22nd dynasty, it became fully adopted. In official documents, however, the full title of the Egyptian King comprised five names, and each name was preceded by one of these titles: Golden Horus Horus, Two Ladies, King of Upper and Lower Egypt, and Son of Re. Son of Re was traditionally given to the Pharoah at birth, the other names at coronation. The Pharaoh owned a large portion of the land in Egypt and allocated its use. The King was responsible for his people’s economic and spiritual prosperity and was the chief lawkeeper. His will was absolute, and he governed with a kingly decree. To oversee the affairs of Egypt fairly, though, the Pharaoh had to delegate authority. The Vizier was his chief assistant, the head of the treasury, the chief justice, and overseer of all palace records. Ancient Egypt had a centralized system of governance where the Pharaoh ruled from the centre and administered power through the nomes or provinces of Egypt. 

Pharaoh Narmer was the first king of a united Egypt and is credited with having united upper and lower Egypt. He was an Egyptian pharaoh of the Early Dynastic Period, and his reign is estimated to have begun at about 3273–2987 BC. The name Narmer comprises two parts: Na, meaning The catfish, and Mer, meaning A chisel. Ancient Egyptians had a unique writing system because pictures could be read as ideas and phonemes. In depictions such as a cylindrical ivory seal found in Abydos, King Narmer is shown as a catfish fighting the enemies of Egypt. This remarkable Egyptian King also redefined fashion for the Pharaohs. In the Narmer palette, he is seen wearing a bull and, later, a dog’s tail, symbolizing the strength needed to rule; he also wears the shendyt, a type of loincloth worn by the ruling class. Narmer is the first ruler portrayed wearing the royal beard, which every Egyptian Pharaoh wore; in depictions of Narmer, an official carrying his sandals follows him. These sandals symbolize the union between heaven, the godly world, and earth, the human world. In later years, Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s sandals depicted pictures of his enemies, symbolizing that with every step, he was crushing the enemies of Egypt. However, it was Narmer who started the Egyptian pharaohs’ fashion of wearing a special kind of sandals. Narmer was a military chieftain, as shown by his efforts in subduing and unifying the kingdoms of Lower and Upper Egypt. He also founded the cities of Memphis and Nekhen, a testament to his economic prowess as a king. 

In Egypt, it was a regular custom for kings to battle dangerous animals to prove themselves. One such animal was the hippopotamus. It is believed that Egyptian kings regularly battled these dangerous mammals to prove to their subjects that they were worthy rulers. However, death by a worthy beast was no embarrassment for a pharaoh, and Egyptians never spoke about or documented their leaders’ ends. But an account of a Greek priest during the Hellenistic Period tells of the death of Narmer with the statement, “He was carried off by a hippopotamus and perished”,..verifying that Narmer was killed by a hippopotamus. This is how we know about the death of Narmer. He was, however, well-regarded and respected by all Egyptian Pharaohs. Another interesting fact about King Narmer is that his body was never found as he was deemed to be buried in a mastaba, the tomb where ancient kings of Egypt were buried before the time of the pyramids. However, it was in 1964 that a set of predynastic royal tombs were discovered in Umm el-Qaab, a site near Abydos. Still, due to disturbances and tomb-robbing, some artefacts bearing the name Narmer were scattered all over the site, making it challenging to identify the precise location of his tomb.

Another remarkable pharaoh was Pharaoh Hatshepsut. She was born in 1507 BCE and was the daughter of Thutmose I. After her father’s demise, Hatshepsut married Thutmose II at age fourteen. Upon the death of her husband, she took over first as a reagent for the underage Thutmose III. She also became Pharaoh and followed in the footsteps of the women who became Pharaohs in ancient Egypt. Scholars posit that queens Sobekneferu and possibly Nitocris were previously Pharaohs. However, Hatshepsut was the only female ruler to become King during the time of prosperity, and it was believed she had more powers than other women kings of Egypt. She reigned for 21 years and 9 months, and during this time, she re-established several trade routes that were disrupted during the Hyksos invasion of Egypt. She also oversaw the preparations and funding for a mission to Punt, from where the emissaries returned bearing live myrrh trees and frankincense from which she made kohl eyeliner. This is the first recorded use of this product. Hatshepsut was one of the most renowned builders in Ancient Egypt, birthing hundreds of construction projects in Upper and Lower Egypt. Hatshepsut has been called the most accomplished Pharaoh in ancient Egypt.

These remarkable stories of accomplishments by the Kings of Egypt will only be complete with tributes and monuments crafted in their honor. So this exquisite handcrafted stoned pharaoh head gown available in teal green, wine, and navy blue is one of such tributes. These African-themed gifts are available at the African Gift Shop ( – the home of handcrafted and unique gift items. African Gift Shop is a black-owned business that deals in African-themed gifts, unique African gifts, and corporate gifts. So, for your African-inspired gifts, visit us at and order your unique and authentic gifts.

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