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Deities & Heros >> Egyptian
shabaka stone, coffin texts, early dynastic period, peteh


Author: Mirjam

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Ptah, Peteh, 'South of His Wall', 'The Ancient One', worshipped in Mennefer (Gr: Memphis) already in the early dynastic period, probably at first as the local patron of craftsmanship, his High Priest in Mennefer was titled 'Greatest of the controllers of craftsmen', showing the importance and status that craftsmen held at the time. He was depicted in mummiform, only his hands reaching forward, wearing a tight-fitting cap and carrying a combined was- and djed-pillar scepter. The Pyramid Texts mention him as a creator god and already in the Old Kingdom the priesthood in Mennefer created a theology aimed at defining Peteh as the creative impulse behind the universe, accepting the other creator gods but placing them as forms of Peteh. On the Shabaka Stone (c. 700 BC) he is altogether identified as eight primitive forms of God; the first is 'Peteh who is upon the great (i.e. primeval) place', meaning the original spirit. Then Peteh-Niu - the waters 'who was the father of Atum', next is Peteh-Naunet - 'the Primeval Mother who gave birth to Atum. Then 'Peteh the very great one who is the heart and tongue of the Divine Compay'. Unfortunately several of the names have been lost to us, except Nefertum, the lotus. In the Coffin Texts and in the 19th Dynasty he was associated with the early earth god of Mennefer, Ta-tenen, 'The Land Which Has Become Distinguishable', meaning distinguishable from the primeval waters, i.e. the Primeval Mound. For the people he was 'the sculptor of the earth', with a likeness to Khnum who fashioned mankind on his potter´s wheel but he never gained a wide and unchallenged popularity, perhaps on account of his intellectual and not so colorful mythology. He was associated with Apis, the sacred fertility bull of Mennefer which was called his 'spokesman' and his 'glorious soul'. In the Late Period he was merged with the ancient Memphitian mortuary deity Sokar and through him also with Osiris, thus becoming a composite god; Peteh-Sokar-Osiris. The ancient Egyptians believed that the name of something held the essence of that being or thing. Instead of as in the Heliopolitan creation myth, where Atum creates the Ennead with his semen and his fingers, Peteh creates with his word; the thought originates in his heart and when it is formed and spoken by his tongue, the authority of his utterance cause all things come into being. The Ennead of Peteh is his teeth and lips, when he speaks, his essence transmits and causes gods and mankind to exist. The theology of Peteh suggests a synthesis of the mind and the material world, a well thought out theology, probably created in order to make Peteh take precedence over rivalling centres of worship, but intellectually advanced and fascinating even today.

Main center of worship:  

at Mennefer/Memphis, 1 st Nome, Lower Egypt

Other places:

The Serapeum at Saqqara, 1st Nome, Lower Egypt

Festivals: (exact dates not historically verified)

14th October - 28th Hethara - Festival of establishing Heru as

King, The appearance before Ptah

16th December - 1st Mechir - Day of Ptah lifting up his hands

6th January - 22nd Mechir - Feast of Ptah and Heru (Horus)

11th January - 27th Mechir - Feast of Sokar

15th March - 30th Parmutit - Offerings to Ra, Wasir, Heru,

Ptah, Sokar and Atum

12th July - 29th Mesore - Holiday in the Temple of Sokar,

Festival in the Estate of Ptah

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