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"Greatest of the Harem of Amun"

 
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anneke
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2005 2:00 pm    Post subject: "Greatest of the Harem of Amun" Reply with quote

I was just reading gay Robins's book "Women in Ancient Egypt".
She has a section devoted to "Musical troupes of the temple".

I had come across women with titles that were translated as "greatest of the harem of Amun" "Greatest of the Harem of Min and Isis", etc.
According to Robins these translations may have to be changed to that of "greatest of the musical troupe of Amun", etc.

The title seems to be weret khener, where khener was often translated as "harem". Robins mentions that in this context khener refers to a troupe of musical performers.

She goes on to say that in the New Kingdom the position of weret khener was held by the wives of some of the highest officials, and frequently she was the wife of a high-ranking priest.

This is a quote from Robin's book. I added the numbering to the questions in case someone wants to respond to a particular question Smile
Robins wrote:
We know little about how the 'musicians', 'musical troupes' and the great one of the musical troupe' fitted into the overall structure and hierarchy of temple personnel.
1. Were they paid like male priests or were they 'volunteers'?
2. Could there perhaps have been a loss of status for women to be paid, and if so, were the musicians from the lower ranks of society paid, but not those from the higher?
3. Was it a matter of status for high officials to be able to support their wives, so that they did not need to obtain suppport from elsewhere, or woould this not have been a matter of concern?
4. Did the title 'great one of the musical troupe' bestow authority on par with the top male ranks of temple hierarchies?
5. Was the 'great one of the musical troupe' ultimately subordinate to the chief priest?

What is clear is that in the New Kingdom a distinction is made between the roles of men and women in temple cult. Men were hem netjer, wab-priests, and lector priests, all headed by the chief priest; women were musicians headed by 'the great one of the musical troupe'. Male singers and muscicians usually remained anonymous, and clearly ranked lower than female singers from elite families. The priest who officiated before the deity's statue was a man, but much of the musical accompaniment was provided by women.

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anneke
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Joined: 23 Jan 2004
Posts: 9305

PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2005 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How were egyptians paid exactly? From what I have read the egyptians did not have money. I guess they were paid in terms of food and abjects? Gold maybe?

I wasn't sure how a 'greatest of the musical troupe' would be paid, if she was. Would they be granted land?
They must have been provided with materials for clothing and instruments for the musicians I presume.

Robins describes women with the 'title' shemayet which means musician. It is not clear what these shemayet do exactly. Some are shown carrying a sistrum. There are some scenes where groups of women are shown shaking sistra.

The 'greatest of the musical troupe' may have been responsible for training, practice and rotas of the performers, and for seeing that things went correctly during the ritual.

[I had to look up rota Embarassed : it means a roster of names showing the order in which people should perform]
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