Coffin of Nesmut - ROM2019_17298_1


Coffin of Nesmut

Medium:Wood, cedar, painted
Geography: Possibly el-Qurna, west bank of Thebes (modern Luxor), Egypt
Date: c. 945-715 BC
Period: 22nd Dynasty, 3rd Intermediate Period
24 x 187 x 54 cm
Object number: 910.268.2
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt

At first glance rather plain and unprepossessing, this coffin is well worth a careful examination.

The coffin, dated to the early Twenty-second Dynasty, was made for a chantress of Amun and Lady of the House, Nesmut.  Examination of her remains (not on display) show that she was a child of eight to eleven when she died.  There are at least five images of her on the coffin. The most prominent shows her kneeling on a mat, facing a table of offerings, and holding a fragrant water-lily in her hand.  In front of her is an image of a goddess in the form of a vulture.  This image not only shows that the girl is being protected by the goddess, but also spells her name, as the image could be read as the hieroglyphs for 'she belongs to Mut' which is the meaning of her name.

On the inside of the coffin, images of her funeral and the goddess Nut, were drawn with black ink and a light wash of pale blue or white paint.  On the outside, the right side shows Nesmut reaching the Afterlife, guided by Ra-Horakhty, being introduced to the welcoming goddess of the West. On the left side, (not visible in the gallery), a number of underworld genies from the Book of the Dead and the Book of Gates offer magical protection.

The cedar coffin itself, though lacking a coating of gesso and painted only with red and black inks with a light wash of pale blue or white paint, shows a personal and tender regard for the little girl whose name was written on it, over and over. Her mother's name is also present, and though not as clear, was probably Ta-Kia.


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