Aset and Wepwawet

Wepwawet

Wepwawet’s (also Upwawet; Greek: Ophois) name means “Opener of the Ways”. Wepwawet is normally depicted as a:

*Standing Canine on a standard
*Standing Canine on a standard, with the shedshed and Uraeus
*Standing or enthroned man with a Jackal’s head
*recumbant jackal

According to Terence DuQuesne, jackals “symbolized vigor, beauty and elegance” as well as with their associations with boundary places such as the desert and the dead (1). The Egyptian jackals have golden-yellow coats, are nocturnal and partner as long as they live (2). As Wepwawet’s theophany, this could describe some of the god’s own attributes.

Wepwawet is a warrior depicted as holding a mace and a bow. As Opener of the Way, Wepwawet does this for ritual, the sun to rise, the deceased to go to the Duat, and the baby to come to the womb (3). Wepwawet was a guardian of cemeteries (4).

As a solar god, Wepwawet helped the sun god to be born from the sky goddess during the coming dawn (5).
The Greeks identified him with the wolf and the Egyptian jackal has been found scientifically to be a species of wolf or coyote. There was a syncretic form of the god, Wepwawet-Ra who was especially worshiped during the New Kingdom (6).

Wepwawet and Aset

There are two Middle Kingdom hymns that name Wepwawet as the eldest son of Nut so he could also be viewed as the brother of Aset (7).

At Abydos, Wepwawet was a son of Aset and Wesir. He was the son or consort of Aset (8) ; he had an epithet “Son of Aset” (9). Wepwawet is attested as the son of Aset from “the tomb of Userhat at Thebes” dated from the late 18th Dynasty to the early 19th Dynasty (10).

Kahl adds that Aset’s cult was worshiped in Asyut from the time of Ramssess the Second and Wepwawet, was honored as Wesir’s son so therefore he would be Aset’s son also (11). Within the New Kingdom, at the city of Asyut, there are stelae that have Wepwawet’s image where he is identified as the “Son of Aset”. In some cases not even his name is recorded, just his image and the epithet (12).

An inscription from the Temple of Aset at Philae, says,”Wepwawet, Great God in Asyut, Son of Aset in the Chambers of Hnkstj.t” (13). An offering inscription at the Temple of Edfu states that Aset ordered her son Heru to share the offering with “his brother Wepwawet” (14).

Within the Papiri dell Societa Italiana manual, a statue of Aset nursing her son Wepwawet is mentioned within a grove of trees sacred to Wepwawet in the town of Asyut (15).

Aset is the Maker of Kings while Wepwawet as the Opener of the Way, makes way for the King to receive his power and sit upon his throne.

Wepwawet, as the son of Aset, is a deity associated with magic, opening the way for the sun to rise, the baby to go to the womb of the mother and a guide for the dead. All of these things, Aset also does as a Mistress of Magic, aiding the sun to rise, helping the child to be born acting as a midwife and guiding the dead in the afterlife.

Wepwawet is a warrior holding a mace and bow leading the armies into battle, while his mother Aset holds a scimitar to protect the state and ensure victory for the armies of Kemet.

Aset and Wepwawet are psychopomps, magicians and trickster deities. As both mother and son are deities of the threshold, Wepwawet is the god that walks the liminal paths and Aset connects those worlds and paths together.

Sources

1) DuQuesne, Terence. Anubis, Upwawet and Other Deities: Personal Worship and Official Religion in Ancient Egypt. (The Egyptian Museum of Cairo, 2008), 10.

(2) DuQuesne, Terence. Anubis, Upwawet and Other Deities: Personal Worship and Official Religion in Ancient Egypt. (The Egyptian Museum of Cairo, 2008), 21.

(3) Wilkinson, Richard H. The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt. (New York: Thames and Hudson, 2003), 191.

(4) Pinch, Geraldine. Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses and Traditions of Ancient Egypt. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 213.

(5) DuQuesne, Terence. “Exalting the God: Processions of Upwawet in Asyut in the New Kingdom”. Discussions in Egyptology, Vol. 57. 2003, pp. 44.

(6) Wilkinson, Richard H. The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt. (New York: Thames and Hudson, 2003), 191. DuQuesne, Terence. The Salakhana Trove: Votive Stelae and Other Objects from Asyut. (London: Darengo Publications, 2009), 120, 145, 261 and 290.

(7) Franke, Detlef. “Middle Kingdom Hymns and Other Sundry Religious Texts-An Inventory”, Egypt: Temple of the Whole World: Studies in Honour of Jan Assmann. Sibylle Meyer, ed. (Brill Academic Publishers, 2004), 105.

(8) DuQuesne, Terence. “The Great Goddess and her Companions in Middle Egypt”. ‘Mythos und Ritual. Festschrift für Jan Assmann zum 70. Geburtstag. (2008), 3 and 23.

(9) Houser-Wegner, Jennifer. “Wepwawet,” Ancient Gods Speak: A Guide to Egyptian Religion. Donald Redford, ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 382. DuQuesne, Terence. “The Great Goddess and her Companions in Middle Egypt”. ‘Mythos und Ritual. Festschrift für Jan Assmann zum 70. Geburtstag.’ (2008), 3 and 23.

(10) DuQuesne, Terence. The Salakhana Trove: Votive Stelae and Other Objects from Asyut. (London: Darengo Publications, 2009), 47.

(11) Kahl, Jochem. Ancient Asyut: the First Synthesis after Three Hundred Years of Research. (Harrassowitz Verlag, 2007), 56.

(12) DuQuesne, Terence. The Salakhana Trove: Votive Stelae and Other Objects from Asyut. (London: Darengo Publications, 2009), 167 and 257.

(13) Junker, Hermann. Der Grosse Pylon des Tempels der Isis in Phila. (Wien: Kommission bei Rudolf M. Rohrer, 1958), 115.

(14) DuQuesne, Terence. “The Great Goddess and her Companions in Middle Egypt”. ‘Mythos und Ritual. Festschrift für Jan Assmann zum 70. Geburtstag.’ (2008), 17-18.

(15) Kahl, Jochem. Ancient Asyut: the First Synthesis after Three Hundred Years of Research. (Harrassowitz Verlag, 2007), 35.

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