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it. Seen from Luxor, seen from the great pylon of Amon-Ra at Karnak, seen from the decks of a passing dahabeah, it is wonderfully majestic and inspiring, but when you dismount from your ass, and commence to climb the terraces, two rebellious impressions almost overmaster you: for bleak heat it beats the Milan Exhibition on a midsummer day, and the colonnades, which have had roofs added to them to preserve the sculptures, look as new as an Italian camposanto. You toil up the terraces, you examine the sculptures, which are, some of them, quite beautiful, and some of them quite funny, but you soon get blasé over bas-reliefs in Egypt. You come to the conclusion that it would be all right if Der-el-Bahari were the only temple in Egypt, but that it does not do after Karnak and Medinet-Habu. You seem to have got to the end of the temple without anything particular happening, when suddenly a dignified ghafir with the white turban, flowing black robe, and yellow arm-badge of the guardians of Egyptian monuments, comes forward and points a key at you and utters the open sesame, monument tickets. You show them, and he admits you to wonderful things—the rock shrines of Der-el-Bahari. The rock shrines of Der-el-Bahari are as marvellous in their way as the colossi of Abu Simbel : the most wonderful of them used to stand between this temple and the eleventh-dynasty temple, from which this was imitated. It has been cut out entire, and is now in the Cairo Museum. Being the only cult image ever discovered in position in its shrine, it was at once removed, instead of being preserved here with adequate precautions. It contained a life-sized image of the cow of Hathor, dedicated by Amen-hetep II. fifteen hundred years before Christ, in a shrine adorned with coloured reliefs in the time of his predecessor, the great Thothmes III. The shrine and the image are alike perfect and brilliantly coloured-it is the glory of the Cairo Museum.
As far as shrines go there are better ones, mercifully left, in situ, in Queen Hatasu's temple. Their colouring is the most brilliant of any we have now remaining from ancient Egypt.
The relationships of Queen Hatasu's family were rather in
volved. She was the daughter of Thothmes I., the sister and wife of Thothmes II., the stepmother, the aunt, and the wife of Thothmes III., if she was not his sister and wife, opinions differing as to whether he was the baseborn son of Thothmes I. or Thothmes II. At one time all three Thothmeses were reigning at the same time. The general wife and daughterHatasu-was more important than them all, because she had through her mother, the divine blood, which they did not possess.
As both she and Thothmes III, were very overbearing people, it is not surprising that, being so intimately related, they quarrelled. She kept Thothmes III., who was the ablest and most powerful of all the Pharaohs, tied to her apron-strings as long as she lived, and he revenged himself by erasing her name and her portrait from every monument of her which he could find, directly she was dead. But he overlooked the most beautiful of the rock shrines of Der-el-Bahari, so that there we have a portrait of the great Queen playing Romulus and Remus with the Sacred Cow.
I should have mentioned that the name Der-el-Bahari means the Northern Convent.1 Der in Egypt means a convent, and Queen Hatasu's temple received its modern name from the topos of Phoibammon-a convent which the Copts deposited like a cuckoo's egg (a habit of theirs) in the great Queen's temple.
I cannot conclude without mentioning the picturesquities and peculiarities of Der-el-Bahari.
Though the temple strikes you at first as so bare, when you are in it, you find charming features besides those glowing rock shrines which have no rivals for colour save in the royal tombs, and are almost unrivalled in their condition. Nowhere else can we match the immense white altar, of striking beauty, standing in one of the courts, to the top of which the sacrificing priest had to mount by steps; nowhere have we a more charming vista of columns, and the plain of Thebes, and the Nile than from one of these rock shrines. The most
· The convents were so usually fortified, that fortresses of the same type, even when they have never contained a convent, are called ders. See chapter on the Great Oasis.
celebrated sculptures of Der-el-Bahari are those which immortalise the treasures brought back by the great Queen's sailors from the Holy Land of Punt-Queen Hatasu was the Good Queen Bess of Egypt in the devotion and enterprise of her sailors, as well as in her family jealousies and her dislike of her successor. The Holy Land of Punt seems to have comprised Somaliland and the opposite shores of Arabia, which do not now flow with milk and honey. Punt may have been the Ophir from which King Solomon imported his apes and peacocks as well as his gold. Gold they certainly had at Punt, for one of the Queen's ships is laden with ring-shaped ingots of it. Among the rest of the cargo catalogued on the walls of the temple are ten incense-bearing trees, and various kinds of incense, much needed for embalming, ebony, silver, antimony, apes, African greyhounds, and panther-skins. Some of the incense was still lying about in 1903. Things keep well in the climate of Thebes. With the cargo catalogued in the pictures are most entertaining portraits of Perhu, the Prince of Punt, armed with a boomerang and a dagger, and his princess, like the fat woman of a Derby-day booth, who was wearing a yellow dress at the time.
Queen Hatasu was a great ruler : like Elizabeth she relied on commerce even more than arms. The grandest and loftiest of all the obelisks in Egypt, which makes the culminating point of the great Temple of Amon-Ra at Karnak, was cut in the quarries of Assuan and brought down and set up by her orders in less than seven months.
than a hundred feet high, and she enriched Thebes with other splendid monuments. But the most notable of her claims is one which anticipates the story of the Immaculate Conception. It was Hatasu's boast that she was the daughter of a virgin, impregnated by the god Amon-Ra, the first person of the Trinity, and chief deity of Thebes.
Three Great Temples-Esna, Edfu,
SNA, as we approached it in 1907, was all in a ferment;
it was beside itself with importance. A fourth of the great Nile barrages was in the full swing of construction. Already a monster viaduct, long and high, was advancing upon the river from the eastern bank; and scores of huge gyassas, the Nile merchant-men, laden with earth, were running upstream with their vast wings of sails blown out stiff, to dump their cargoes on the advancing dam. The presence of all these native craft, of an army of fellahin navvies, and a posse of English engineers made business in the little town brisk. It reminded the Esnites of the palmy days when Esna had a governor, and was the chief town of a province, which was quietly cut in two and handed over to Kena and Assuan in 1889. Its government offices were moved to Assuan; the staff at any rate must have been pleased, since Assuan in winter is the most fashionable place in Egypt.
Most of the thirteen thousand five hundred inhabitants of Esna, who were not earning wages as barrage-building, were assembled on the shore for the arrival of our steamer. A barber was doing a thriving trade by the water's edge, and you could have any number you wanted of leather waterbottles decorated with shells. But the principal feature of the alfresco market which was accommodating itself to the steep slopes of the bank, was the display of baskets, about four feet high, shaped like oil-jars, and woven of purple, green, and white cane splints, arranged in rows.
Ali Baba would have thought that they must have been
made for thieves to hide in; they were big enough, and would have reminded him of the oil-jars used as a background for his portraits ; also there are plenty of thieves in Egypt. I could not discover what they were used for; the supply of Europeans who want them for soiled linen must be limited ; but they are very handsome ; they make lovely splashes of colour on the bank, and an Arabian Night scene for kodaks if you take care not to include the shoddy European shanties at the top of the bank, labelled “Gloub Grand Bar," “ Coffee Bar Port Arthur," and so on. These were, I supposed, intended for the barrage-builders. But Esna was always famous for its places of amusement. The Ghawazi, or dancing girls, were banished from Cairo to Esna by Said Pasha, and it continued to be one of the headquarters of the profession. In those days numerous gay cafés flourished round the separate quarter of the city where they lived, and travellers' dahabiyehs used to be anchored just below this quarter, because their crews like to sit up all night watching these Geisha of Egypt.
Esna has a bazar, picturesque in its buildings if it has not much to offer the traveller except fresh provisions. It used to be the last good place for marketing as a dahabeah went up-stream, One wonders whether the barrage has made the market bigger or the prices higher.
Until the barrage was commenced, travellers only regarded Esna from one other point of view—as a place with a temple; and until the time of Mohammed Ali this was buried up to the capitals of its façade, and over head and ears everywhere else. He had one chamber of it-the hypostyle hall, cleared out in 1842; the rest of the temple, which is said to be still complete, was underground when I was there, and half the city of Esna was built on the top of it. As it had formerly stood at the top of the town, this was naturally the airiest situation.
By the time that these words are printed perhaps the whole of the temple will have been uncovered, for preliminary operations were almost finished by the end of 1908, while the barrage was sufficiently completed to be opened by the Khedive in February 1909-an event which probably had an