Het-Hert as Lady of the West welcomes the dead into her realm. She is Mistress of the Western Desert and Mistress of the Necropolis. She is often shown on funerary stelae and papyri as a wild cow coming forth from the papyrus swamps. This particular imagery shows her connection with the world of both the living and the dead; between the teeming life in the Nile valley and the silent tomb of the cemetery.

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Het-Hert emerging from the papyrus swamps in Her form as a Celestial Cow

Because of her aspect as a funerary goddess, she was especially venerated in the Theban necropolis and was associated there with two local goddesses, Meretseger and Amentet. Meretseger ("She who loves silence") is a cobra-goddess who is also personified by the pyramid-shaped mountain which overlooks the Theban necropolis.  In the vignette above from the Book of Coming Forth by Day of the Papyrus of Ani, Het-Hert is shown emerging from this mountain amidst a thicket of papyrus.   The white chapel of Ani with the pyramidion on top stands against this "Peak of the West."

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Het-Hert as Lady of the West, seated with Her Father Ra

In Theban tombs such as that of Nefertari, the beloved wife of Ramesses II, Het-Hert wears the symbol of the West on her head in her role as Lady of the West ("Nebet Amentet" in the ancient language).  As Lady of the Southern Sycamore, the tree-goddess of Memphis, Het-Hert offers the deceased refreshment of cool water and shade from her branches.  There he could joyfully sit beside her underneath her sheltering tree.

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Het-Hert as Lady of the Sycamore, providing food, drink, and shade for the deceased

In the Coffin texts, the deceased expresses a wish to be in Het-Hert's following and in her service. Some of the tasks which the deceased wishes to perform for her are to be the clerk at her altar, to fasten Her tjes-ten (her outer garment which afforded protection to the deceased in the Netherworld past enemies on the fearsome Island of Fire), or to work aboard her barque.

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The Barque of Het-Hert

In the picture above from the Tomb of Ramesses IX, Khepri guides the barque of Het-Hert on its journey through the Netherworld.  He takes the form of a sacred scarab beetle, his Name meaning "to become" and symbolizing the sun-god at dawn.  Het-Hert's symbol of a cow-eared woman carries a sistrum upon her head. This barque is one of several which accompany the solar barque of Ra through the Netherworld and is depicted in the second hour of the Amduat.  The Amduat, which means literally "that which is in the Netherworld" is divided into twelve parts, each one representing an hour-by-hour account of the nightly voyage of Ra through the Netherworld.


Note: Another reference for depiction of HetHert as Lady of the Sycamore:

The vignette of the Papyrus of Nu, chapter 68, which shows the deceased sitting at the feet of Het-Hert enthroned, with the sacred sycamore tree behind both the deceased and the goddess. [Buhl 92]


(1) Image of Het-Hert as a cow emerging from the papyrus swamps, from The Egyptian Book of the Dead (of the Papyrus of Ani) translated by Raymond Faulkner
(2) Image of Het-Hert as Lady of the West with her father Ra, in the tomb of Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens, in Henry A. La Farge's Museums of Egypt.  Virtual restoration by NeferuHethert
(3) Nut in a sycamore tree offering a libation of water; papyrus manuscript from the Book of the Dead, 21st Dynasty (1080-960 B.C.E.), in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria, in Vernus' The Gods of Ancient Egypt, p. 39
(4) 19th Dynasty stela of chantress of Amun Tekha'e, now in Florence, showing a leafless tree with Het-Hert in human form except for a cow's head. The lower portion of her body is hidden in the tree and she pours water and offers bread to a woman, in Sergio Bosticco's Le Stele Egiziane del Nuovo Regno, pl.48, pp. 56-57.
(5) Barque of Het-Hert from the tomb of Ramesses IX in the Valley of the Kings, in Mark Simpkins' Valley of the Kings, Simpkins Splendor of Egypt series, Book 16, Simpkins Souvenirs, c. 1992.  Restored in Photoshop by NeferuHethert.

Allam, Schafik, Beiträge zum Hathorkult (bis zum Ende des Mittleren Reiches), Berlin,Verlag Bruno Hessling, c. 1963.
Bosticco, Sergio, Le Stele Egiziane del Nuovo Regno, Roma, Istituto Poligrafico dello Stato, c. 1965.
Buhl, Marie-Louise, The Goddesses of the Egyptian Tree Cult, Journal of Near Eastern Studies 6 (1947).
Bleeker, C.J., Hathor and Thoth: Two Key Figures of the Ancient Egyptian Religion, Leiden, E.J. Brill, c. 1973.
Hart, George, A Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses, London, Routledge, c. 1986.
Hornung, Erik, The Valley of the Kings: Horizon of Eternity, New York, Timkin Publishers, c. 1990.
Lesko, Barbara S., The Great Goddesses of Egypt, Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, c. 1999.
Refai, Hosam, Die Göttin des Westens in den thebanischen Gräbern des neuen Reiches, Berlin, Achet Verlag, c. 1996.

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