Barque Stations were resting places for the statue of the god when journeying outside the temple during festival processions. The god would inhabit this temporary shrine and bestow blessings to the local population.
The first station was usually inside the temple and the second just outside its pylon walls. Other stations were built at greater distances along the processional rout up and down the Nile. Some were just a few miles apart such as for the Opet festival from Karnak to Luxor. Other festival processions travelled considerable distances such as the 106 miles during the feast of the Divine Union when the goddess Hathor travelled from Dendara to the temple of Horus at Edfu.
The image of the god or goddess was carried inside a portable enclosed shrine, which was placed on a model barque (boat). Sometimes this was carried over land by teams of men and sometimes it was place on a real boat and continued over water.
One can imagine thousands of people lining the rout as the divine barque was carried by priests accompanied by pilgrims, members of the nobility, musicians, dancers, the sweet aroma of burning incense and excited children following in its wake. When the procession reached a consecrated place the Barque Station doors would be opened and the priests would place the god or goddess on a plinth inside. The scene was probably similar, in spirit, to a Spanish Corpus Christi festival where the splendid procession bears the consecrated host through the streets.
The Kiosk of Trajan
The Kiosk of Trajan at Philae is an unfinished Barque Station and over the years I've made many drawings and paintings of this monument.
Only a few barque stations survive and the reconstruction below is based on the form the Kiosk of Trajan.
The reconstructions above and below are based on the form the Kiosk of Trajan. However, there decoration shows the goddess Hathor and Horus are imaginary barque stations for the feast of the Divine Union.