Today morning we reached Edfu and the tour started sharp at 9am.
The temple at Edfu is dedicated to Horus, the falcon god. It is one of best preserved temples in all of Egypt. Evidence from the middle kingdom are present but most of the works are from the Greco Roman period during the time of Bartholomew XII (Ptolemy XII). The date is approx 230 BC.
The entrance is marked with 2 big walls on either side of the massively high doorway like in the temple at Philiae. The king making offerings to Horus is depicted on the wall.
We enter the temple and we see a large open space with pillared corridors on either side. When we enter the next hall we see a hypostyle hall with 64 pillars – each pillar ends in a plant motif on top of the local plants – lotus, date palm etc (In India you see pillars ending with a plantain tree motif). The pillars are supposed to symbolize trees that’s why the top of the pillar has these tree motifs.
There were 64 priests at this temple and hence there are 64 pillars. This temple is supposed to commemorate the revenge of Horus on Seth who had killed his father Ossyris earlier.
We see the sanctum sanctorum where a boat (ark) is kept in which Horus travels. The original boat is in France. Behind the boat is a granite structure where statues of the gods were kept.
Take this – every day the priests took the statues on a procession in a circle inside the temple. Also on festival days, the statues are taken out into the city in a procession (aren’t you reminded of the Urchava Murthi, Pradosham concepts in Hinduism?).
We then saw 2 rooms one on either side of the hypostyle hall – one of them was the office of the head priest and the other was a library housing holy papyruses. Possibly one of the earliest libraries.
Then we went to a room called as the oldest perfumery in the world. Here they have written a recipe for making a perfume in Hieroglyphics.
Then we see a relief showing 64 priests carrying the ark (boat) of Horus. All the priests except the head priest are shown with a clean shaven head (where we have seen that before?). The head priest wears a leopard skin (Where we have seen that before?).
During one of the festival days, they celebrate the wedding of Horus and Hathor (does that sound familiar?). Then we see the hall dedciated to Nut, the sky goddess (sort of the Sannidhi of Nut if you like Hindu terminology). The roof of this hall has the picture of Nut with some of the original blue color still retained.
Nut is shown in traditional form – her body arcing over the earth with her legs on one side and her hands on the other both touching earth.
Now the Egyptians believed that the Sun spent 12 hours on earth and the other 12 hours with the after life resurrecting itself magically every morning. This is the circle of life for them.
When the sun sets, it enters Nut’s mouth and at Sunrise, it leaves Nut’s genitals.
It is this circle of life that they symbolize by the daily ritual of taking the statues in a circle within the temple. As always, the temple is awe inspiring with massively high doorways and massively high columns.
We are on our way to Esna where we will see the temple of Khnum – one of the creator gods.
More to come….