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Relief from Nebhepetra Montuhotep's Temple of Montu at Tod, showing Het-Hert head sistrum

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Sistrum from 26th Dynasty (Late Period)              Greco-Roman Bronze Sistrum     

The two ritual instruments carried by Het-Hert's priestesses during her worship were the sistrum and the menat. The sistrum, a rattle with her cow-eared face and either a naos or a bent arch on top, with several horizontal bars with small disks, and the menat, a thick necklace of beads held by a handle-shaped counterpoise, were both believed to be infused with her divine spirit during purification and invocation rites and could thus transfer her life-giving force. The Rock Tombs of Meir, in which the nomarchs of Qis from the Sixth Dynasty were buried, show both items being used in rituals at the local Temple of Het-Hert at Qis. In addition, at Qis the senew bread used in the temple offerings was also an instrument for bestowing ankh, the divine life-force, during the rituals at her temple.

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Menat necklace from the reign of Amenhotep III, made of bronze, faience, stone, and glass

menit counterpoise hethertsm.jpg (17290 bytes)                 menit counterpoise sekhmetsm.jpg (19356 bytes)

Counterpoises featuring HetHert (left) and Sekhmet (right), used with menit necklaces

The mirror, an item traditionally connected with Het-Hert, was used in an interesting ritual called a "Mirror Dance" from the 5th Dynasty. Hand-shaped objects, which were also used as clappers for percussion in musical performances, were held up to be reflected in mirrors, themselves the same shape as the sun-disk. Clappers of this type were also found in the tomb of King Tutankhamen and may have been used in this type of dance.

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Mirror of Sat-Hathor-Iunet, and Ivory and Hippopotamus-tooth clappers with Het-Hert images

 

References for images

(1)  Limestone relief from a now-destroyed Temple of Montu at Tod, built during the reign of Nebhepetra Montuhotep, beginning of the 11th Dynasty, in Christiane Desroches Noblecourt and Christian LeBlanc's "Considérations dur léxistence des divers temples de monthou à travers les âges, dan le site de tod," in BIFAO 84 (1984), p. 84, pl. 31a

(2) Late Period sistrum, Dynasty 26, from Gifts of the Nile: Ancient Egyptian Faience edited by Florence Dunn Friedman

(3) Greco-Roman Period Bronze Sistrum, with figures of Bes, Het-Hert, the naos (shrine), and cats of Bast, from The Egyptian Museum Cairo: Official Catalog by Saleh Mohamed and Hourig Sourouzian.

(4) Menat necklace, from Theban palace of Amenhotep III, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.  In Capel and Markoe (eds.): Mistress of the House, Mistress of Heaven:  Women in Ancient Egypt.

(5) Bronze counterpoise showing HetHert with horns and disk (above), as a woman holding papyrus scepter (middle), and as a wild cow in a papyrus skiff in the papyrus marsh (below), later 18th dynasty, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.   In Jewels of the Pharaohs by Cyril Aldred, pl. 115.

(6) Bronze counterpoise of the late 18th dynasty, showing Sekhmet, her body depicted as a shrine holding a figure of the goddess wearing the sun-disk.  In Gifts of the Nile by Bienkowski and Tooley, p. 62

(7) Mirror of Sat-Hathor-Iunet, 12th Dynasty, from Illahun, in Egyptian Treasures from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, edited by Francesco Tiradritti.

(8) Ivory and Hippopotamus-tooth clappers in Nofret - Die Schöne: Die Frau im Alten Ägypten by Dietrich Wildung.

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