Sunday, October 11, 2015

Gates Six and Seven from the Papyrus of Ani

    The Sixth Gate has a gatekeeper named "Seizer of Bread, Raging of Voice" with a Guardian and an Announcer name "One who Brings his own Face" and "Sharp of Face, Belonging to the Pool" respectively. Ani tells them that he is the bearer of the Wereret crown and that he has rescued the eye of Osiris. With this Ani is permitted to continue onwards "in triumph". The heads of the three figures seated before this gate consist of a jackal and two other animal heads that I cannot identify for certain, although they may be a crocodile and a dog The jackal holds grain in his hand, while the other two hold knives.

     The Seventh (and last) Gate is guarded by three kneeling figures which are rabbit-headed, lioness-headed (??) and human-headed. The human-headed figure holds grain (the other two hold knives) and wears the beard of the gods. The gatekeeper is referred to as "One who Prevails Over Knives", while the other two are named "Great of Triumph" and "One who Repels the Demolishers". At this gate Ani says, "I have come before you, Osiris, so that I might be pure of evils. May you circulate around the sky, may you see Re" and " are in the night bark as he circles the horizon of the sky".

     Making some sort of sense of all this is difficult. Here are some statistics, which may, or may not, mean anything:

Of the twenty-one kneeling figures who bar Ani's passage through the gates there are:

  • 4 Human-headed figures; two hold knives and two hold grain
  • 2 rabbit-headed figures; one holds a knife and one holds grain
  • 3 snake-headed figures; all three hold knives
  • 2 Crocodile-headed figures (one is clearly crocodile-headed, one might be crocodile-headed), both of which hold knives
  • 2 jackal-headed figures, both of whom hold grain
  • 3 figures that might be lioness-headed, all three hold knives
  • 3 dog-headed figures (?),  with all three holding knives
  • 2 raptor-headed figures (clearly shown as two different birds pf prey), one holds grain and one holds a knife
Fifteen of the "demons" hold knives, while six hold grain. 

     None of this seems to have any special meaning, or if it does I do not understand it. In an attempt to learn more I consulted some scholarly works on the subject. Not only did I get no real clarification, but I also got some added confusion.  For instance, Rita Lucarelli ("The Guardian-Demons of the Book of the Dead", British Museum Studies in Ancient Egypt and Sudan 15 (2010), pp. 85-102) points out that the names of the gates guardians (very rarely) change from one copy of the Book of the Dead to another, and that sometimes the animal heads on a particular guardian changes from one copy to the next. (Lucarelli, p. 87). Also, the number of guardians at each gate is sometimes two, rather than three (Lucarelli, p. 88). 

     The next post will start looking at the "portals" mentioned in the Papyrus of Ani (BD Spell 146) to see what we can find there.


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