Sunday, 26 June 2011

Calendar Entry #22: Holiday of the Shemsu of Horus

We continue our journey through the Cauldrons Calendar feast/festival/holidays.
Canopic Jars of Neskhons, photograph CaptMondo
The Shemsu of Horus, or Shemsu-Heru or Followers of Horus have been more commonly referred to as the children of Horus and are four minor deities who helped Horus, particularly in the embalming of the dead.  They protected the canopic jars that contained the internal organs of the mummified deceased.  In earlier times, from the First Intermediate Period to the end of the 18th Dynasty, the stoppers of the canopic jars were made in the face of the deceased.  After this they were shaped to depict the Shemsu.  These were Imsety, the human headed protector of the liver, Hapy, the baboon headed protector of the lungs, Duamutef, the jackal headed protector of the stomach and Qebehsenuef, the falcon headed protector of the intestines. 
The Followers of Horus is a term that has also been applied to the early invaders and conquerors of Egypt who made Egypt into the great Dynastic civilisation it became.  The Pre-Pharaonic rulers of Upper Egypt thought of themselves as 'Shemsu-Heru'.  


  1. Are there any comments to why each figure links to it's signature location?

  2. From what I've read it looks like the canopic jar came first and the deity followed, at least for a couple.
    Imsety's jar held the liver which was thought of as the seat of emotion. Death by a broken heart was attributed to the deity, who became known as the kindly one - Imsety in Egyptian.
    Duamutef's jar contained the stomach. The most significant cause of death in war was injuries to the torso and stomach, so the deity protecting this organ was associated with death by war. The name Duamutef means adoring his mother (later referred to as motherland) - dying in war to protect it.
    Qebehsenuef's housed the intestines. While the intestines were commonly used from sacrificial animals to predict the future, they were also how victims of poisoning died. Death by poison gave rise to the name of the poisoner - Qebehsenuf.
    I'm not quite sure with how this applies to Hapy. The lungs were associated with death by drowning. There was a reference to geese (floating on water) and runner with regards to the river currents running, but how that ended up as Hapy is beyond me.