Duat (Tuat) In Egyptian mythology, the underworld or other world. Originally, Duat signified the place through which the sun god Ra passed each evening after his setting, or death, on his journey to that portion of the sky where he would appear the next morning. Although generally called the underworld, Duat was not believed to be situated under the earth but rather away from the earth, in a part of the sky where the gods resided. It was the realm of the great god Osiris, who reigned over all other gods of the dead as well as the dead themselves. Duat was separated from the world by a range of mountains that surrounded it, forming a great valley. On one side the mountains separated the valley from the earth and on the other side, the valley from the heavens. Through Duat ran a river that was the counterpart of the Nile in Egypt and of the celestial Nile in heaven, and on each bank of this river lived a vast number of beasts and devils who were hostile to any being that invaded the valley. Duat was further divided into 12 sections, or nomes, each of which corresponded to one of the hours of the night.
According to one Egyptian text, The Book of Pylons, Duat is a long, narrow valley with sandy slopes, divided into two equal parts by a river on which the boat of the sun sails. Each of the 12 sections, or nomes, of the valley has its own demons, or ordeals, that the deceased has to pass in order to be worthy of life with Osiris. The same concept is used in Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute, in which the hero, Tamino, undergoes a series of ordeals instituted by the high priest Sarastro in order to be worthy to praise Isis and Osiris.
Duat is sometimes called Ta-dchesert (the holy land), Neter-khertet, or Khert Neter (divine subterranean place).
Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow– Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante