This section highlights some of the priests and priestesses who served
Het-Hert 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.
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.
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.
Reference for Image
Relief of Pipi, probably from Memphis, 18th Dynasty, in Renate Krauspe's
Das Ägyptische Museum der Universität Leipzig, p. 94.
Shafer, Byron E., Temples of Ancient Egypt, Cornell University
Press, c. 1997.