Egypt, Late Period, ca. 712 - 332 BCE. Life-sized gesso and painted wood, pharaonic burial sarcophagus with overall black ground having red-brown tone face with black and white details, multicolor striped, tripartite wig and wide, intricate aegis floral collar, with falcon headed terminals. The body painted with funerary subjects including the four Sons of Ra,the Goddess Nut, wedjat-eye above Nut’s wings. The ram of Khnum, and figures of Anubis. Large vertical glyph band on front, containing verses from the Book of the Dead, painted in multicolor. Reverse with the sky goddess Nut outstretching her winged arms. 67-1/2"H, complete with upper and lower sections. Crated dimensions are 42"L x 28"W x 20"H, 165 pounds (please inquire about shipping prior to bidding).
Concerning the sarcophagus markings: The only part that needs translation is the panel in front of the legs, containing two columns; the rest are just depictions of individual signs of protection and power, and of gods. There are odd looking signs (indicating that the scribe did not really know what he was copying), and from obvious words signs are either missing or wrong. So the following is not a translation, but rather a paraphrase of what might have been intended.
It seems to start with the traditional "Words spoken by the Osiris X"; however, given the strange shape of some signs it could perhaps also be "The honoured one with Osiris"; for either translation several signs are wrong. Then follows the name of the owner, plus the name of his father and mother; the formula is "X, the son of Y, born to the Lady of the House Z". The names of the son and father cause a real problem, because of the strange shape of the third sign. However, I believe it could be "Men" in both cases. If I am right, this is interesting, because the word "men" is not a real name but means "so-and-so". In ancient Egypt funerary objects (papyri, coffins etc.) were often made in advance, long before a buyer was found. Also the texts were applied to the object before it was bought, but on the spots were the name of the future owner should be, the artist would leave an empty space. Once the item was bought, the artist would add the name of the buyer in those empty spots. This can sometimes be detected, when the colour of the paint is different, or when the name is written in a different hand, or when the name of the buyer did not fit in the empty space.
Now, most texts were copied from model texts, written on papyrus. To indicate where the name of the future owner should be written on the objects, the model text would sometimes also contain empty spaces. But there are also cases where the model text used another method, namely witing the word "men" instead of the owner. As said, "men" means "so-and-so", it was an indication that the artist who was copying the text should replace the word "men" by the name of the buyer. But sometimes the artist did not realise this, and without thinking copied the word "men" as if it were part of the text. And this is what could have happened on thus sarcophagus as well. So the sarcophagus now reads "the Osiris "So-and-so", the son of "So-and-so", born to the Lady of the House ...", which should have been "the Osiris ... (name of the son), the son of ... (the name of his father), born to the Lady of the House ...". In the second column there is a sign which looks like the sign for "mother" (or the goddess Mut); there is also a combination of signs which might mean "overseer" (quite incertain), and the rest is incomprehensible, mainly because one cannot be certain about which signs are meant.
PROVENANCE: Ex-private Paris, France Collection, ex-private Texas Collection; comes with permanent European Passport #062372 (see images).
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