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Limestone relief from Thebes, showing procession of the Beautiful Feast of the Valley


The Beautiful Feast of the Valley, called heb nefer en inet in Kemetic, was celebrated every year during the second month of Shomu, the Harvest Season, which was the beginning of summer.  During this festival, the sacred icons of Amun-Ra, his consort Mut and their offspring Khonsu left the temple at Karnak in order to visit the funerary temples of deceased kings on the West Bank and their shrines to the Netjeru of the West, including Het-Hert as Lady of the West and Wesir, King of the Dead.  Amun-Ra traveled in his shrine, veiled from view, on a portable sacred barque, shown here carried on the shoulders of twenty-four priests. The bow and stern of the barque are decorated with the ram head of Amun wearing a broad collar and sun disk. This barque then crossed the Nile on the Userhet, a 67-foot-long barge covered with gold and precious materials and built from imported Lebanese cedar. A flotilla of smaller boats followed the barge on the Nile.  In this limestone relief from Deir el Medina, Ramesses II offers incense to the divine image of Amun-Ra. This festival was a time of great rejoicing for the people of Kemet, who greeted the barque of Amun on His journey and brought flowers, food and drink offerings to the tomb chapels of their loved ones. There was much celebration and feasting, and afterwards the participants would spend the night sleeping in the funerary chapels of the blessed dead, their akhu, who might then communicate with them in dreams.

 

Reference for image

Limestone relief of the Beautiful Festival of the Valley, found within the enclosure of the Temple of Het-Hert at Deir el Medina, 1st year of reign of Ramesses II, in Cairo Museum, in Rita Freed's Ramses II: The Great Pharaoh and His Time, pl. 43.

References

Bleeker, C.J., Hathor and Thoth: Two Key Figures of the Ancient Egyptian Religion, Leiden, E.J. Brill, c. 1973.
Freed, Rita, Ramses II: The Great Pharaoh and His Time, Denver Museum of National History, c.1987.
Sabbahy, Lisa K., Ramses II: The Pharaoh and His Time Exhibition Catalog, Brigham Young University, c. 1985.
Wilkinson, Richard H., The Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt, Thames and Hudson, c. 2000.

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