The Great Cat of Heliopolis

This well-known scene is one of the ones that helped to establish the sepulchral vault’s notoriety. It was inspired by the 7th hour of the Am Duat (which can only be found in the Royal Tombs) and was later recorded in the Book of the Dead. A striped fawn cat with large ears sits on its hindquarters, facing West. It has a knife in its front left paw, which it is using to slay a large snake on whose head it rests its right paw. The snake, which resembles a grass snake, extends its forked tongue and convulses beneath a persea filled with red berries.
It’s the scene of the solar cat (“the Great Cat of Heliopolis”) destroying Apophis, the sun’s arch-enemy,

under Heliopolis’ persea (Iched Tree). This tableau can be seen in various Deir el Medina tombs, including TT1, Sennedjem, and Nakhtamon, TT 335.

“I am the cat who split the Iched Tree in Heliopolis the night when the enemies of the Master of the Universe were annihilated,” says the vignette, which is based on a passage from the Book of the Dead’s chapter 17: “I am the cat who split the Iched Tree in Heliopolis the night when the enemies of the Master of the Universe were annihilated.” The sun God Khepri-Re is represented and embodied by the Geat Cat. Each night, he must annihilate the serpent Apophis in order to rise in the Eastern horizon, the horizon being not merely a line, but the precise spot where the star shines, which mythologically correlates to the gates of heaven before the Iched tree.

A thorough investigation revealed that the feline’s extraordinarily big ears are not those of a hare, as previously assumed, but those of a donkey, resulting in a hybrid animal known as a cat-donkey, or “miou.aa” in Egyptian, which can also be translated as “Great cat”!

Under the cat’s knife-cuts, the serpent’s contortions form two loops that resemble the two loops that conjure up the two hills that surround the horizon, like the hieroglyph Akhet, and we discover the Iched tree, which is an avatar of the sun, in between these loops. As a result, the message is clear: the sun’s supporters have defeated the shadows, and the star will rise as it does every day.

The text that goes with it reads: “To cut Apophis’ backbone, a formula was devised to split the adversary. In the midst of the other gods, this god is content. My heart was filled with truth (by) the Ka of Osiris, master artisan of the Place of Truth west of Thebes, Foreman on the horizon of eternity (= the necropolis), Inerkhau, justified. His sister, (= wife), the mistress of the house, Amon of Pa-chantress, Khenty’s Wab, was vindicated. Hor-Min, the writer of the contours of eternity, made by his brother, Hor-Min, justified “.
As a result, we may be positive that Hor-Min painted this painting. A textual feature catches our attention (framed in red, in the plate). The serpent Apep’s determining symbol is filled with knives! In truth, Hieroglyphic symbols, like other representations, are prone to being alive in the hereafter, thus no precautions should be taken.

Object Details

The Great Cat of Heliopolis

New Kingdom

Dynasty 20, reigns of Ramesses III and Ramesses IV

1186 to 1155 BC

Egypt, Luxor, Deir el-Medina

Tomb of Inherkau, TT359