ancient egypt: history and culture
The fourteen kas
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The fourteen kas

    According to the Coffin Texts Re protected his followers with the help of a million kas. These were all the forces of nature, who were not differentiated.[1] Since the New Kingdom he is described as having fourteen kas, divine attributes, which went together with seven bas as can be seen in one of Hor-Behdety's titles:

He who sees Re and his seven Bas and fourteen Kas.
Leitz Christian: Lexikon der ägyptischen Götter und Götterbezeichnungen, Volume 8, Peeters Publishers 2002, p. 511
    In Graeco-Roman temples Pharaoh, as the son of Re, is depicted standing in front of the deity accompanied by (generally) fourteen bearers of offerings. Upon their heads they carry symbols for their attributes.[2] As is often the case in Egyptian mythology these properties are not not set in stone. In one case three of these kas had directly to do with the most basic need of humans: the assurance of nourishment - food production, nourishment and the abundance of food. The others were greenness, brightness, luminousness, venerability, victorious power, order, fidelity, vigour and skill and, if all of these should fail, the unbeatable joker: magical power.[1] At times sight, hearing, knowledge, taste, funerary gear and others are among the fourteen kas.[3]

    At Edfu an inscription says:

I've come to you, Behdety of the many coloured feathers and to your uraeus (i.e. Hathor) and [her] son (i. e. Ihy) and in my train I have led to you the fourteen kas with all the gifts which are with them.
The kas are then enumerated and their roles described:
The ka of the foods The King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Lord of the Two Lands, Ptolemy XII, [son of Re, Lord of the Crowns] Ptolemy XII, [has come to you, Horus Behdety, great God], Lord of the Heavens, in order to bring you the ka of foods, whose foods are offered on his arms, wo has given you livelihood, who has established the augmentation of your possessions.
The inscriptions of the other kas having to do with nourishment are similar. More interesting is the role of the ka of Strength which shows how uneasy the heads wearing crowns could rest on their pillows, or rather headrests:
.... to bring you the ka of Strength, with strong arms fitted out with weapons of war, who strengthens your arm in order to kill those who conspire against you, by whose knife those are cut down who have rebelled against you.


Frankfort Henri: Kingship and the Gods: A Study of Ancient Near Eastern Religion as the Integration of Society and Nature, University of Chicago Press, 1948
Moret Alexandre: The Nile and Egyptian Civilization, Routledge 2013
Traunecker Claude : The Gods of Egypt, Cornell University Press, 2001

[1] Traunecker 2001 op. cit., p. 33
[2] Frankfort 1948 op. cit., p. 366
[3] Moret 2013 op. cit., p. 358

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