Monday, January 7, 2013

Dynasty Seventeen Canopic Chests

     Canopic chests are the stone or wooden boxes that contained the internal organs of the deceased that had been removed from their body during the mummification process. The style and decoration of canopic chests changed over the nearly three thousand years that they were in use.

     The Seventeenth Dynasty saw a new style of canopic chest come into use. The style of decoration on the chests of the period also changed. The chests were made of wood and were made in the style of contemporary rectangular coffins. The decorations were painted on over a base of plain or yellow gesso. The lids were vaulted and had raised end-pieces.

Figure 1 - Canopic Jar from tomb 55,
Eighteenth Dynasty
Figure 2 - Canopic Chest of Sekhemre
Wepmaat Intef, Dynasty 17
     Canopic chests were designed to contain canopic jars. These jars were usually made of stone and were four in number. A different protective deity was associated with each jar. Imsety was the god that protected the liver, Hapi watched over the lungs, Duamutef protected the stomach and Kebehsenuef guarded the intestines. Early jars (from the Old Kingdom) had flat, round lids. Later the lids were in the form of the four deities that protected them. At other times the lids were human headed (see figure 1 - one of the canopic jars from tomb 55 that date to the Amarna Period at the end of the Eighteenth Dynasty). The canopic chest of Sobekemsaf II (Dynasty Seventeen) was too small to have contained canopic jars. Instead, representations of the jars were painted on the jars inner lid (Dodson, Aidan. "Canopic Jars and Chests" in Redford, Donald (ed). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, Oxford: Oxford University Press, Vol. 1, 2001, p. 232).

     The canopic chests of the Seventeenth Dynasty were decorated on the sides with representations of Anubis, the god of mummification, above the signs for cloth and vegetation (see figure 2 - the canopic chest of Sekhemre Wepmaat Intef, now in the Louvre).

No comments:

Post a Comment