2007 Volume 42 Pages 95-124
Among known festivals celebrated in ancient Thebes, many Egyptologists agree that the Festivals of the Valley and of Opet are the most important. This is verified by many historical documents, which juxtapose the two festivals in texts and pictorial depictions on a great scale.
Thus, it is significant to compare the two festivals to obtain better insight into their detailed religious context and new perspectives for further research, which has not been pursued, particularly for the Valley Festival, since the 1950's. This article intends to shed light on the Valley Festival, focusing on the socio-religious function by an analogy with the Opet Festival, research of which has gained modest but not negligible progress in the last two decades.
The most distinct feature of the Valley Festival was that it supplied not only a formal setting for the renewal of kingship and royal ancestral cult, but also a private setting for the common people to hold a banquet in their family tombs. These two dimensions were closely linked through the figure of Amen, who distributed offerings to convey his godly power in both spheres. According to records from the private tombs, the people received various offerings from the temples where the procession of Amen made a stop during the Valley Festival. Yet the distribution of temple offerings is not attributed only to the Valley Festival, but also to many other festivals.
What distinguishes the Valley Festival then? By focusing on the differences in ideologies between the Valley and the Opet Festivals, this paper will explore how the god (or king) and the people were interrelated during the festivals in different manners.