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Page from the Book of the Dead of Hunefer

 

Height: 45.700 cm (frame)
Length: 83.400 cm (frame)

EA 9901 sheet 5

Reading Room

    Page from the Book of the Dead of Hunefer

    From Thebes, Egypt
    19th Dynasty, around 1300 BC

    Rites before the tomb

    This is an excellent example of one of the many fine vignettes (illustrations) from the Book of the Dead of Hunefer.

    The centrepiece of the upper scene is the mummy of Hunefer, shown supported by the god Anubis (or a priest wearing a jackal mask). Hunefer's wife and daughter mourn, and three priests perform rituals. The two priests with white sashes are carrying out the Opening of the Mouth ritual. The white building at the right is a representation of the tomb, complete with portal doorway and small pyramid. Both these features can be seen in real tombs of this date from Thebes. To the left of the tomb is a picture of the stela which would have stood to one side of the tomb entrance. Following the normal conventions of Egyptian art, it is shown much larger than normal size, in order that its content (the deceased worshipping Osiris, together with a standard offering formula) is absolutely legible.

    At the right of the lower scene is a table bearing the various implements needed for the Opening of the Mouth ritual. At the left is shown a ritual, where the foreleg of a calf, cut off while the animal is alive, is offered. The animal was then sacrificed. The calf is shown together with its mother, who might be interpreted as showing signs of distress.

    R.O. Faulkner, The Ancient Egyptian Book of t, (revised ed. C. A. R. Andrews) (London, The British Museum Press, 1985)

    R.B. Parkinson and S. Quirke, Papyrus, (Egyptian Bookshelf) (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)

    S. Quirke and A.J. Spencer, The British Museum book of anc (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)

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