Heku – Magical Stories (Part 2)

While the stories of Heku written on the Wescar Papyrus tell of miracles performed by the high priests, they also relate historical magical stories that have been carried forward from Ancient Egypt.

Another story in the Westcar papyrus, as told at the royal court of Pharaoh Khufu  (25th century BCE) is as follows:

Khafra stood before his father, Pharaoh Khufu, and said: “I will relate a marvel which happened in the days of King Snefru, your father.”

Then he told the story of the turquoise pendant.

Snefru was one day disconsolate and weary. He wandered about the palace with desire to be cheered, nor was there aught to take the gloom from his mind. He caused his chief lector priest brought before him, and said: “I would fain have entertainment, but cannot find any in this place.”
Chief lector priest Djadjamankh said: “Thy Majesty should go boating on the lake, and let the rowers be the prettiest girls in your harem. It will delight your heart to see them splashing the water where the birds dive and to gaze upon the green shores and the flowers and trees. I myself will go with you.”
The king consented, and twenty virgins who were fair to behold went into the boat, and they rowed with oars of ebony which were decorated with gold. His Majesty took pleasure in the outing, and the gloom passed from his heart as the boat went hither and thither, and the girls sang together with sweet voices.
It chanced, as they were turning round, an oar handle brushed against the hair of the girl who was steering, and shook from it a turquoise fish pendant, which fell into the water. She lifted up her oar and stopped singing, and the others grew silent and ceased rowing.

Turquoise Fish Pendant, Egyptian, Middle Kingdom  The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Said Snefru: “Do not pause; let us go on still farther.”
The girls said: “She who steers has lifted her oar.”
Said Snefru to her: “Why have you lifted your oar?”
“Alas, I have lost my turquoise fish pendant and it has fallen into the lake.”
Snefru said: “I will give you another; let us go on.”
The girl pouted and made answer: “I would rather have my own pendant again than any other.”
His Majesty said to Djadjamankh: “I am given great enjoyment by this novelty; indeed my mind is much refreshed as the girls row me up and down the lake. Now one of them has lost her turquoise pendant, which has dropped into the water, and she wants it back again and will not have another to replace it.”

Djadjamankh at once muttered a spell. Then by reason of his magic words the waters of the lake were divided like a lane. He went down and found the turquoise pendant which the girl had lost, and came back with it to her. When he did that, he again uttered words of power, and the waters came together as they were before.

(This part sounds similar to another story of magical power!)

Snefru was well pleased, and when he had full enjoyment with the rowing upon the lake he returned to the palace. He gave gifts to Djadjamankh, and everyone wondered at the marvel which he had accomplished.

Such was Khafra’s tale of the Turquoise Pendant, and Khufu commanded that offerings should be laid in the tombs of Snefru and his chief lector priest Djadjamankh, who was a great magician.