This section highlights some of the priests and priestesses who served Het-Hert in Kemet.

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Pipi, priestess in the service of Het-Hert of Memphis, 18th Dynasty

 

The Priesthood in Kemet

The King, as the bridge between Netjer and the people, was in theory the sole priest of Kemet.  However, since it was impossible for Him to be in all the temples at the same time, there was a trained body of priests who served Netjer in His stead.  During the Old and Middle Kingdoms, priests served in rotation several months of the year, working at their civil jobs for the remainder. It wasn't until the New Kingdom that a full-time priesthood became widespread. 

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Hieroglyphs for the word Hm-nTr (male servant of God)

The duties of the hem-Netjer (Hm-nTr or "Servant of God") included preparing the offerings, performing rituals, and performing the daily service for the Divine Image of the Name of Netjer resident in that particular temple.  From at least the time of the Old Kingdom, women also served in this capacity, with the similar title hemet-Netjer (Hmt-nTr).  They were also associated with music making, and there are many depictions of women in the khener (xnr, "musical troupe") of the temple rattling sistra, singing, and dancing.  From the time of the Middle Kingdom, some of the women in the khener also bore the title of Chantress (Smat, "shemat").  Female singers and musicians played an important part in the temple services throughout all of Kemet's history, including the Ptolemaic Era.

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Hieroglyphs for the word Hmt-nTr (female servant of God)

Another type of priest was the wab (wab, or "pure") priest, who performed the lesser duties necessary to maintain the rituals in the temples.  This type of priest was allowed to handle ritual instruments and objects but was not allowed to enter the sanctuary where the Divine Image was kept.  Women from the Old Kingdom and later periods performed the wab-service for Het-Hert and received the same compensation for this as their male counterparts.

The priest who carried the ritual book and recited the heka, or "authoritative utterance," of the service was called a Lector Priest (xry-Hbt, "Hery-Hebet").  There are no women recorded with this title.

One of the titles born by priestesses of Het-Hert in the Old Kingdom was Worshipper of God (dwAt-nTr, Duat-Netjer).  This title was revived for the high priestly position of God's Wife during the Second Intermediate Period. The costume worn by priestesses of the Middle Kingdom (as well as God's Wives in succeeding periods) included a short wig and thin fillet.

The following are some of the priests and priestesses of Het-Hert attested in texts, reliefs, and statuary.  It is interesting to know some of the names and faces of these servants of God, and in remembering them, we thereby feed their Kas.

Senetites (Old Kingdom)

Khentka (Old Kingdom)

Inet-kas (Old Kingdom)

Setnet-Inheret (First Intermediate Period)

Kawit (Middle Kingdom)

Meryetamun (New Kingdom)

 

Reference for Image

Relief of Pipi, probably from Memphis, 18th Dynasty, in Renate Krauspe's Das Ägyptische Museum der Universität Leipzig, p. 94.

Bibliography

Shafer, Byron E., Temples of Ancient Egypt, Cornell University Press, c. 1997.


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