Saturday, February 11, 2012

Conclusion of the Opening of the Mouth

            The next part of the Opening of the Mouth is referred to as the “dressing of the statue[1]”. It began with the placing of several bandlets upon the statue, followed by adorning the statue with a broad collar. The collar represented the gods Kheper and Atum and the straps with which it was fastened to the statue represented the arms of the gods (thus the deceased was magically embraced by both gods[2]). The statue’s mouth was anointed with “Medjet” oil and the eyes were anointed with “Mestem”. After the recitation of appropriate ritual passages, the statue was anointed with “Heken” oil. The Sem priest then presented the statue with an “Ames” scepter, a mace, an object called a “Mennu” (the exact significance of which is unknown)[3] and two garments. After being censed four more times, the statue was considered fully dressed and ready for the funerary meal.

           The ceremonies involved in the funerary meal do not belong to the “Book of the Opening of the Mouth”; rather, they represent acts of adoration paid to the statue, which has by now received the soul of the deceased.[4] In the Old Kingdom the offering list for the funerary meal is very short, but by the New Kingdom it has been greatly expanded and includes a bewildering variety of breads, beers, wines, joints of meat, cakes, incenses and water.

            After the funerary meal, the statue of the deceased was carried by nine courtiers to a shrine that awaited it. The remainder of the funeral services were then performed[5].

[1] In Spell 68 of the Coffin texts, there is a reference to the goddess Seshat clothing the deceased. See: Robert O. Faulkner, The Ancient Egyptian Coffin Texts, Vol. I, (Warminster: Aris & Phillips Ltd., 1973),  p. 65.

[2] Budge, Book of Opening the Mouth, vol. I, pp. 96 - 103.

[3] Budge, Book of Opening the Mouth, vol. I, pp. 108 - 110.

[4] Budge, Book of Opening the Mouth, vol. I, p. 121.

[5] Aylward M. Blackman, “The Rite of Opening the Mouth in Ancient Egypt and Babylonia”, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, vol. 10, 1924, p. 56.

Photo: Censing the statue with incense. Copyright 2012 by John Freed

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