Ancient Egypt, Middle Kingdom, ca. 2050 to 1800 BCE. Painted and burned to have haunting iconography that would protect its owner in the afterlife, this is a section of a coffin. It is composed of two thick boards of a cherry-colored hardwood - probably cedar - that would have been imported from Lebanon and shipped down the Nile. The use of this fine wood suggests that the person for whom this coffin was made was an elite member of society. Remains of red, black, white, and bright, sky blue pigments can be seen on the surface, forming hieroglyphs and other symbols of power and worship. Size: 1.8" L x 19.5" W x 11.75" H (4.6 cm x 49.5 cm x 29.8 cm); 14" H (35.6 cm) on included custom stand.
On the upper part of the panel are a series of hieroglyphs praying directly to Osiris, Lord of the City of Djedu (Djedju) and City of Abydos - the god of the underworld, lord of both Lower and Upper Egypt. Below this is a large painting of eyes (in the Eye of Horus style) and the symbol for eternity, which has been burned into the wood. These eyes provided a window to the outside world for the mummy inside to see. The ancient Egyptian religion required its practitioners to purchase and use a tremendous amount of items for protection in death, and because these items - like this fine and expensive coffin - were usually made by priests, this enriched the priesthood and temples, who were hugely powerful in Egyptian society.
Accompanied by a translation.
Provenance: private Illinois, USA collection
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