Coffin lid of Padikhonsu - 906.28.10.A-B_1


Coffin lid of Padikhonsu

Medium:Painted wood and stucco
Geography: Excavated at el-Qurna, Thebes (modern Luxor), Egypt; pit in front of TT 21, User.
Date: c. 716-656 BC
Period: 25th (Kushite) Dynasty, 3rd Intermediate Period
200.75 x 50.8 x 27.3 cm
Object number: 906.28.10.B
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt

The brightly painted wooden coffin of Padikhonsu, ROM 906.22.10 A and B, dates to the Twenty-fifth Dynasty about 700 bce. The coffin was acquired for the museum by C.T. Currelly in 1906 from Sir Robert Mond who had excavated it in 1905 from a pit in the courtyard of the tomb of User (TT 21) in a cemetery on the West Bank at Thebes. Several members of his family were buried together.

The coffin is made of sycamore planks doweled together with pegs of the same wood. The lid, 906.22.10.B, made from two planks of unequal width, is quite flat. The friendly, smiling red face was separately carved and is attached to the coffin with dowels. (One of these can be plainly seen, rather like an urna, between the brows.) The oversize eyes look out from a head cover whose lappets were also separately carved and attached with dowels. The head covering is painted in stripes of yellow and red earth and blue. A chaplet of water-lily petals encircles the crown. At the neck and shoulders, a broad collar was painted to resemble a wesekh collar made of leaves and flowers. The particular pattern on this collar matches several found in Tomb 44 in the Valley of the Queens, even though this coffin was found elsewhere.

This style of coffin, with carved face and wig and projecting foot, but otherwise flat, is known as ‘sub-anthropoid.’ There is no representation of the arms or hands. There is no pedestal. The coffin is 200.75 cm in length and has the form is of an outer or intermediate coffin which might suggest it was originally part of an ensemble of two or three coffins. There is, however, no evidence that this coffin was part of a set. Padikhonsu’s coffin, which combined aspects of inner, intermediate and outer coffins, belonged to a man of the lower elite of Thebes who could probably only have afforded a single coffin.

The frontal body-field is divided into five horizontal registers, separated by broad bands of colour, with an axial column extending completely from the bottom of the wesekh collar to the toe. This vertical band was painted with yellow earth, bordered by panels of ‘palace façade’ form: a blue-black outer border delineates a white space, with a single red ribbon in the centre. Dots to guide the drawing of these lines can be seen just above. All images and texts are drawn parallel to this central band. On New Kingdom and Third Intermediate Period coffins, such a central band is usually inscribed with the standard offering formula and the name of the deceased. On ROM 906.28.10.B, however, this band and many other spaces where names or titles could have been inserted are blank.

The horizontal coloured bands recall the bands of text that had been carved and painted on coffins and sarcophagi since the Old Kingdom, possibly in imitation of the wrappings on bodies. On ROM 906.22.10.B, as was common in the Twenty-fifth Dynasty, these bands are blank, and serve to separate the various scenes and texts as well as to enliven the coffin with bright colour. Unfortunately, much of the blue paint on the coffin lid has flaked off, so that the bands often appear to be black or dark grey. There are no traces of varnish on the exterior or interior of the coffin.

Three of the coffin’s horizontal registers contain images and two have text; a further pair of images is painted on the coffin foot. The first register, divided by the central panel, has two horizontal scenes. On the right, a mummiform Osiris stands facing right; his face, now dark grey, was originally green. Osiris wears red wrappings, a collar painted with yellow earth, and a menat. He is crowned with a yellow royal pschent crown with uraeus, and has a divine curled beard. The god Djehuty, shown as an ibis-headed man wearing the crescent moon and a red disk (presumably the full moon) on his head, bends awkwardly toward Osiris. The god’s limbs are now grey, but traces of paint show they were originally blue. Djehuty carries red and yellow cloths in his lower hand, and offers a red pot of incense with his raised hand. Behind Thoth, a green-skinned Isis, wears her customary headdress which is the hieroglyph of her name, a throne. Her dress is red, with yellow earth armlets and anklets. She carries a papyriform sceptre in her forward hand, with the ankh in her trailing hand. Behind Isis stand mummiform figures of two of the sons of Horus, Kebsenuef and Hapy. They wear long wigs topped by a style of unguent cone that does not occur before the Twenty-fifth Dynasty. Their wrappings are cheerfully coloured: Kebsenuef is in yellow ochre, while Hapy’s are red on the bottom and yellow above. Around their waists are thick sashes painted with red and yellow earth. Kebsenuef’s hawk face is white without the usual Lanner falcon eye markings. Hapy has a red baboon face.

On the other side of the central band, the focal mummiform deity may be hawk-headed Sokar. His wrappings are red with a yellow broad collar. He wears a dark wig with the pschent crown and carries a w3s sceptre. Balancing the image of Djehuty on the right side, a figure of Horus faces Sokar offering a pot of incense with his upper hand and carrying cloth in his lower. Horus wears a yellow and blue-grey kilt, a red corselet, and a yellow wesekh collar. Neither Sokar nor Horus shows the characteristic Lanner falcon eye markings. Behind Horus, Isis’ sister Nephthys, green-skinned, wears a red sheath dress with yellow collar and armlets, and the hieroglyph of her own name, Neb-hwt, the palace, on her head. She carries a sekhem sceptre in her forward hard, and the ankh in the other. At this point the two remaining Sons of Horus might be expected, to balance Hapy and Kebsenuef. However, the following figure, though mummiform, is snake-headed, apparently beardless, and crowned with a modius. The modius supports double plumes and a sundisk. He carries the feather of Ma’at. This figure may represent the primordial god of creation, Atum. Some paint has been lost from the face of the final mummiform figure, but his long snout suggests the crocodile god, Sobek. He has no modius, but seems to wear two oddly-shaped plumes with sundisk directly on his flat head. Both mummiform figures wear long wigs and wrappings that are red from foot to waist, yellow above. Like the figures on the right, they wear green and yellow sashes that tie in front and hang down. In front of each figure in the top register are two black lines marking off a yellow rectangle, but there are no identifying glyphs.

Register Two contains text on both sides. The hieroglyphs now appear black or dark grey for the most part, though traces of blue paint can be seen.

.On the right, four vertical lines of inscription name the deceased and his parents: A recitation for the Osiris, Pa-di-khonsu, justified, son of Haty, justified. His mother (was) the Lady of the House, Di-Ast, justified, possessor of reverence before the Beautiful West. Padikhonsu’s name means "Gift of the Moon God" and is typically Theban. The coffin of a lady Di-Ast was found in the same pit as Padikhonsu. No title is recorded on the coffin for Haty, whose name was fairly common at this period.

Register Two Left has four vertical lines with a similar inscription, but includes Padikhonsu’s title: A recitation for the Osiris, the Chief Steward of the Estate of Amun, Pa-di-khonsu, justified. Child of Haty, justified. His mother (was) the Lady of the House, Di-Ast, justified, possessor . . . . The final word, nebet, can mean ‘Lady’ or ‘Possessor of.’ The scribe seems to have run out of space to complete the epithet ‘possessor of reverence,’ as on the right.

In the Third Register, large, confident images of Re, shown as a hawk crowned with a sun disk, face each other across the central panel. Re spreads his wings in protection around a shen symbol. The two hawks stand directly on the register line. Above them are four vertical registers marked with yellow paint, but empty. Like the hawks in Register One, they do not bear the Lanner falcon eye markings.

Register Four has white rectangles of text on either side of the central yellow band. (Figures 5 and 6) Each is divided into four vertical lines though the final register on the right was ruled too narrow for any glyphs, and so remains empty. These lines pose some difficulties for translation, though their intent is clear. Two different versions of the Afterlife are suggested. On the right, Padikhonsu is promised eternity in the Necropolis, ruled by Osiris, and being visited in his funerary chapel. On the left Padikhonsu is assured that he will accompany the god Re in his sun boat, sharing in the offerings of the spirits.

Register Four Left: May you rest in your place in the Necropolis, likewise in your funerary chapel which is eternal, your lifetime (will be) near him. . .

Register Four right: He shall not destroy your lifetime. May he cause that you ascend with him and that you descend with him, (and may) he offer [food], together with the spirits, their food offerings (for?) the possessor of reverence (i.e. the deceased). Toward the end of the fourth column, the text is rather crammed, and the final sign, (Gardiner’s F39) ‘veneration’ or ‘reverence’ is barely recognizable.

These lines are both aspirational and a kind of insurance. It’s clear from the manner of his burial that Padikhonsu was unlikely to have had his own funerary chapel on the West Bank, and would have hoped to share in the offering left at the tomb of User himself, or at the great mortuary temples nearby. In previous eras, only the king joined the sun god in his daily journey, but now Padikhonsu believed or hoped that participation in the cyclical rebirth of the sun was open to him as well.

The fifth register has two deities or genies on each side. Their rectangles have been divided into two compartments. In the compartments closer to the centre line stand two identical bearded snake-headed beings. Each wears a modius with two plumes and a sun disk, and each carries a knife. They are mummiform, wrapped in cloth that is red from waist to toe, and yellow above their broad yellow-and-blue sashes. In the farther compartments, two beings squat with knives in their hands. They are also mummiform, wearing the same red and yellow garment but without sash. On the right, the figure wears a modius with two feathers and sun disk, and a long dark wig. The face seems to be a hippo. On the left, an earless creature wears the same wrappings and crown, but has a long, thin snout. A crocodile? While it’s possible that these unnamed beings are Atum, Sobek and Taweret, it seems more probable that they are Gate Deities, such as those from Book of the Dead Spell 17. The poorly-drawn images contrast with the confident images of Re and the other hawk-headed deities.

A final set of protective images on the foot of the coffin face upward toward the deceased. In place of the expected Anubis on his shrine, a crocodile-headed deity stands ready with his knife on the right, facing a similarly armed hippopotamus deity on the left. They are most probably Gate Deities.

Object History: Excavated by the Egypt Exploration Society (Sir Robert Mond), 1905-1906
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