Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Middle Kingdom Rectangular Coffins

Figure 1 - head end of the coffin of Khnumnakht
     The painted wooden coffins of the Middle Kingdom are frequently quite beautiful objects to look at. Earlier I posted some pictures of the famous coffin of Djehuty-Nakht, now in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. This time I have some photos of the coffin of Khnumnakht to show. This coffin is from Asyut and is now in the Metropolitan Museum.

     This coffin is interesting for several reasons, not the least of which is the figure of a goddess on the head end of the coffin. A representation of a goddess on the head or foot end of a coffin  is rare before the Thirteenth Dynasty (Hayes, William. The Scepter of Egypt, vol. 1, New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1953, 318 - 9). It is also an unusual representation of a goddess in that it might represent both Isis and Nieth (again, from Hayes, Scepter). Notice that the goddess has two cylindrical oil jars on her head, which is nothing like the representations of Isis and Nephthys which would become common on coffins starting in Dynasty Thirteen.

Figure 2 - hieroglyphs from the coffin of Khnumnakht
Figure 3 - Hieroglyphs from the coffin of Khnumnakht
     Figures 2 and 3 show details of the the hieroglyphs painted on to the coffin. These photos do not do full justice to the talent of the artist who executed these paintings. If you have a chance to visit the Met, please look carefully at this coffin and admire the detail work in these paintings, especially the owl in figure 2 and the quail chick in figure 3.

Photos copyright (c) 2013 by John Freed

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