Hapi, sometimes transliterated as Hapy, not to be confused with another god of the same name, was a deification of the annual flooding (inundation) of the Nile River in Ancient Egyptian religion, which deposited rich silt on its banks, allowing the Egyptians to grow crops. His name means Running One, probably referring to the current of the Nile. Some of the titles of Hapi were, Lord of the Fishes and Birds of the Marshes and Lord of the River Bringing Vegetation. He is typically depicted as a man with a large belly wearing a loincloth, having long hair and having pendulous, female-like breasts. The annual flooding of the Nile occasionally was said to be the Arrival of Hapi. Since this flooding provided fertile soil in an area that was otherwise desert, Hapi, as its patron, symbolised fertile lands. Consequently, although male and wearing the false beard, Hapi was pictured with a large belly, as representations of the fertility of the Nile. He also was usually given blue or green skin, resembling that of Nu, representing water. Due to his fertile nature he was sometimes considered the "father of the gods", and was considered to be a caring father who helped to maintain the balance of the cosmos.
It may be the case that originally, Hapi (or a variation on it), was an earlier name used for the Nile itself, since it was said (inaccurately) that the Nile began between Mu-Hapi and Kher-Hapi, at the southern edge of Egypt where the two tributaries entered the region (its sources are two lakes, one of which is Lake Victoria). Nevertheless Hapi was not regarded as the god of the Nile itself but of the inundation event. He was also considered a "friend of Geb" the Egyptian god of the earth, and the "lord of Neper", the god of grain.
Other attributes varied, depending upon the region of Egypt in which the depictions exist. In Lower Egypt, he was adorned with papyrus plants and attended by frogs, present in the region, and symbols of it. Whereas in Upper Egypt, it was the lotus and crocodiles which were more present in the Nile, thus these were the symbols of the region, and those associated with Hapi there. Hapi often was pictured carrying offerings of food or pouring water from an amphora, but also, very rarely, was depicted as a hippopotamus.
When pairing of deities began to occur in the Egyptian pantheon, occasionally a token wife, named Meret (simply meaning beloved), was given to him. However, more usually, since the Nile was tied to the land, later, Hapi was said to become the husband of the patron of the land, which in Upper Egypt was Nekhbet, and in Lower Egypt was Wadjet. After a while, he became identified with Nun, a paired deification created for the primordial waters, Naunet, in the late Ogdoad cosmogony. Thus, Hapi gained her as wife also, since Nu was created to make a pair for Naunet.
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