Kherty (or Cherti meaning “Lower one”) was an ancient Egyptian earth god and a god of the underworld who sailed the boat which carried the decased on their last journey. He was associated with Aken, and may have been seen as an aspect of that god at one time. However, he was also an ambiguous god who both guarded the pharaoh’s tomb and threatened the pharaoh on his journey into the underworld. It was thought that Ra, the sun god, himself had to intervene to ensure the king’s safety.

Kherty was depicted as a ram or a man with the head of a ram (representing the “Ba” or soul). His cult center was in Leotopolis, and he may have been the source of tales of other mythological ferrymen – in particular Charon from Greek mythology. Kherty was particularly prominent during the Old Kingdom when he was thought to share the rule of the underworld with Osiris. He ruled over the entrance to the underworld and the chambers leading to the Halls of Ma’at while Osiris ruled over the lands of the blessed dead who passed the trials and were proved to be worthy. He was also linked with Khnum, largely because he took the form of a Ram.

Copyright J Hill 2010