Saturday, October 17, 2015

Portals of the Underworld

     The Book of the Dead that belonged to Ani had ten "portals" the deceased needed to pass (according to the text of spell 146) in addition to the seven "gates". The difference between a gate and a portal is unclear to me, although the vignettes on the papyrus do show the portals and gates looking very different. The gates, which we described in some of the previous posts, are mostly painted as simple, single-color, rectangles with a door in the lower center of the rectangle. The portals are portrayed as being a more elaborate style of doorway. Two of the portals are topped by a kheker frieze, another shows two eyes of Horus, with a shen sign between them. Two show a single snake above them and the final one (portal ten) shows a pair of snakes. One of these entrances has two Ba birds with the sign of life (ankh), while yet another shows a row of rearing uraei much like the top of the exterior cover of Tutankhamen's canonic chest.

     Each portal has a single guardian eight of whom hold grain, one holds a knife and one holds both a knife and some grain. Ani and his wife stand before the vulture headed guardian of portal one holding their hands up in an attitude of adoration. The portal doorkeepers are:

Portal Guardian Name Description of Guardian
1 Terror Vulture-headed with a sun disk on its head holding grain
2 Child of the fashioner Alioness-headed guardian who holds grain
3 Splendid A human-headed guardian who holds grain and has the "divine beard"
4 Long-horned Bull This guard has a bull's head and holds grain
5 One who spears the Disaffected A half feline and half hippo figure that holds a knife
6 United One A male human figure with a mis-shapen head. He holds both a knife and grain.Unlike the guardians of the seven gates and 7 of the ten portals, this guard is not shown in mummy wrappings. He wars the "New Kingdom Male Kilt and a broad collar instead.
7 Ikety Ram-headed (like the god Khnum) and holding wheat
8 One who protects himself A falcon holding grain and wearing the double crown usually worn by Horus or the Pharaoh (who are often one and the same of course). He stands on a coffin, unlike the others who squat on a reed mat
9 One who made himself A feline-headed "demon" who has a sun disk surmounting his head and who holds grain in his hand.
10 Great Embracer A ram-headed figure who wears an "Atef" crown and holds grain

At each of the portals Ani must utter words (a spell?) to pass these strange beings and continue on his way to the land of the blessed dead.

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