Kherty

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Kherty in hieroglyphs
T28
t
[1]
Kherty
Ḫr.tj
The slaughterer
T28
t
i G7
[1]
Kherty
Ḫr.tj
The slaughterer

Kherty is an Ancient Egyptian deity. Despite being archaeologically attested since the early 2nd dynasty, his original mythological role during this era is unclear, the earliest mythological descriptions of Kherty's role appear not until the 6th dynasty in the Pyramid Texts.[2]

Description[edit]

The earliest depictions of Kherty appear during the early 2nd dynasty, under king (pharaoh) Hotepsekhemwy and Raneb. He is shown as a recumbent and mummified ram, the figurine is always guided by the hieroglyphic signs of a shamble and a bread loaf, giving a reading as kherty. The meaning of this word is commonly "to slaughter", thus Kherty's name may mean "the slaughterer".[2][3]

Cult[edit]

Kherty was worshipped since the early 2nd dynasty, his name appears first time on stone bowls of king Sneferka. Stone bowl inscriptions from the reign of king Peribsen mention first time the title "god servant of Kherty" (egpt. hem-netjer Kherty). The main centre of the Kherty cult was located at Letopolis (today Ausim), a second cult centre was later founded at Nesat (exact location unknown).[1]

Mythology[edit]

Kherty was a death deity with a contradicting character: The pyramid texts reveal that he was worshipped at one side as a guide, who brought the deceased king safely to "the yonder site" by "being the ferryman", he also protected the deceased against various demons (named inmetjw in the texts) sent by Seth. The deceased king was then brought to his destination by Ra.[2][3]

On the other site, however, Kherty was feared as "death in persona", a god that "lives on the heart of men", making them stop pounding, the pyramid texts reveal that Kherty attacked the physical heart (khat(jw)) of the dying peoples, not the metaphysical, symbolic heart (jb) as the "seat of thoughts and feelings". For this reason, a lot of spells and prayers were addressed to Kherty in attempt to befriend and please him.[2] Other prayers beg Ra to "take the deceased king away from Kherty", these prayers also mention Osiris, the judge of the underworld. Thus, Kherty and Osiris were mythologically connected to each other.[3]

Kherty is not mentioned in the famous Coffin Texts of Middle Kingdom period. Instead, he is replaced by a god Aker, who is now the ferryman; in the prayers of the Book of the Dead, Kherty is described as a guard who guides the celestial bark of Ra.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Christian Leitz: Lexikon der ägyptischen Götter und Götterbezeichnungen (LGG) (= Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta, vol. 6). Peeters Publishers, Leuven 2002, ISBN 9042911514, pp. 48.
  2. ^ a b c d John Gwyn Griffiths: The Origins of Osiris and His Cult (= Studies in the history of religions, vol. 40). BRILL, Leiden 1980, ISBN 9004060960, p. 6, 173 & 174.
  3. ^ a b c Georg Meurer: Die Feinde des Königs in den Pyramidentexten (= Orbis biblicus et orientalis, vol. 189). Saint-Paul, 2002, ISBN 3525530463, pp. 73, 74 & 76.