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MIN

Min, whose cult centers were Chemmis in the Delta and Koptos, was a deity of predynastic origin whose fetish was a thunderbolt. In early times Min was considered to be a sky-god, a supreme being whose title was Chief of Heaven. Until well into the Middle Kingdom, he was identified with the falcon-god Horus the Elder. He was called the son of Ra, or of Shu.

 

Min was above all a god of fertility, worshipped by men as a bestower of sexual powers. As a rain-god he personified the generative force in nature, especially the growth immanent in grain. In representations of one of the important Min festivals, the Pharaoh was shown hoeing the ground and watering the fields while Min looked on. At the Min festival held at the beginning of the harvest season, the Pharaoh was seen ceremonially reaping the grain. In the Middle Kingdom , Min was identified with Horus son of Osiris through this connection with the Pharaoh as source of abundance. When he begot his heir (ritually at the same festival) the Pharaoh was again identified with Min. As Pharaohs were also said to be the sons of Ra, Min came to be identified with the sun-god; and in the New Kingdom he was still more closely linked with Amon-Ra. At this period Min became a very popular deity and orgiastic festivals were held in his honour.

 

Despite his fertility associations, Min was well-known as Lord of the Eastern Desert, for he was the tutelary deity of the caravan routes to the Red Sea which departed from Koptos, passing through dangerous tribal lands. He was also called Lord of Foreign Lands and was the protector of nomads and hunters.

 

Min was represented as an ithyphallic bearded man, usually a statue with legs close together in the archaic fashion, painted black. He wore the same headdress as Amon, two tall feathers, and held one arm raised to brandish a scourge or a thunderbolt. In the New Kingdom he was shown presiding over the harvest festival in the form of his sacred animal, a white bull, which was often fed his special plant, the lettuce, believed to have aphrodisiac properties.

A Twelfth Dynasty relief carving from Thebes showing Sesostris I and the god Min. A god of fertility, Min was particularly the bestower of sexual powers in men, and at Abu Simbel a number of murals feature him being offered lettuce by the Pharaoh; lettuce was believed to be an aphrodisiac in ancient Egypt and it was fed regularly to the white bulls (the sacred animals of Min) during the harvest celebrations. Min was the bringer of rain, and the generative force in nature - particularly he was associated with the growth and ripening of grain. At Thebes he was often shown wearing the crown of Amon and carrying a flail in one hand.