Known as Kyphi by the ancient Greeks, this ancient incense bears the name of K’apet, which was the oldest word for incense. It’s wonderful aroma permeates the mind and soul, relaxing the spirits. Kapet was burned in ancient temples during the evening rituals, to prepare the god for Their slumber. Setjy Netjerw has reconstructed this incense from the ancient recipe found at the Ointment-Workshop of the Temple of Horus in Edfu, Egypt.
K’apet is an incense that has a long history in ancient Egypt. Its earliest mention comes from the Pyramid Texts, where it is listed among offerings that the deceased king would find good in the afterlife. In the medical Papyrus Ebers, a recipe for K’apet appears to cense the home and clothes, and ingested as a treatment of bad breath. The Papyrus Harris I lists the ingredients for K’apet as offerings to various temples by Rameses III. The word for censing or burning incense is ‘k’ap’ hence it can be seen K’apet is one of the oldest incenses created and used by the ancients.
The late first/early second century CE historian Plutarch is most notably a wealth of information on K’apet (called kyphi by his time as a Greek transliteration of K’apet). He reveals the Egyptians ingested kyphi as a cleansing tonic, and its smoke is calming and brought sleep.
“The kyphi emits a sweet breath and a beneficent exhalation by which all is changed, while the body, being moved by the whiff softly and gently acquires a temper that seductively brings on sleep, so that without intoxication it relaxes and loosens the chain-like sorrows and tensions of daily cares. The scent purifies and polishes like a mirror the faculty which is imaginative and receptive to dreams, just like the notes of the lyre which the Pythagoreans used before sleep to charm and heal the emotive and irrational part of the soul. For scent often restores the power of perception when it is failing, while they often obscure and calm it, since the exhalations penetrate the body because of their smooth softness.”
These claims by Plutarch have been thoroughly tested with Per Djeba K’apet, and found to be very accurate.
Plutarch also reveals kyphi was burned in the temples in during the evening rites of temples in Egypt, along with frankincense in the morning and myrrh at midday. This corresponds to a story in the 4th century b.c.e of Petese, prophet of Ra in Heliopolis, who was struck down by the gods. The wife of Petese mixes together frankincense, myrrh, and kyphi; she burns this for Ra who then speaks in the voice of Petese, thus this powerful combination was able to bring the power of speech to her husband.
Setjy Netjerw employs the recipe inscribed in the ointment workshop at the Ptolemaic temple of Horus at Edfu. While there are several different recipes, they have in common being based of wine, honey, raisins from the oasis, with a collection of herbs, spices and resins. There are several things unique to Setjy Netjerw Kyphi, due to the exhaustive research. Many recreations by those claiming to base their kyphi on Edfu will often eliminate ingredients they do not recognize or have found to be readily unavailable. Also the misunderstanding of the wine and raisins ‘from the oasis’ is common. There is also a deeper understanding as to the utilization of wine that is also widely unknown among contemporary preparers.
Kyphi was favored by Hathor, goddess of femininity, Horus, god of kings, good work, and gold, and Isis, goddess of magic.
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