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HOME : Egyptian Antiquities : Archive : Egyptian Painted Wooden Panel from a Sarcophagus
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Egyptian Painted Wooden Panel from a Sarcophagus - X.0443
Origin: Egypt
Circa: 525 BC to 332 BC
Dimensions: 48" (121.9cm) high
Collection: Egyptian
Medium: Painted Wood

Additional Information: sold aliza

Location: United States
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Our wooden panel doubtless comes from a lid of an anthropoid sarcophagus. It is preserved from about the level of the neck to that of the ankles. The decoration is restricted to specific zones, the first of which, at the top, consists of several concentric semi-circles of floral ornaments interspersed with geometric designs intended to recall actual floral collars placed on the deceased. The lowest strand of this collar consists of a row of tear-dropped shaped pendants which frame the principle figural scene depicting a kneeling goddess, facing right, with her wings outstretched as are her arms. Her fisted hands each hold an ostrich feather symbolically representing truth. She is depicted wearing a tightly-fitting garment which leaves her breast exposed, jeweled accessories, and a wig, held in place by a fillet on which is placed a sun disc. There are three panels of hieroglyphs arranged in the field around her, but the signs within each are too imperfectly preserved to afford a continuous English translation. She is separated from the lower section of this lid by a rectangular frame decorated with a metope-like decoration of the same type, but smaller in size, which separates each of the four figures there depicted. These are the Four Sons of Horus, identified by their unmistakable mummiform shape and the stylized mummy bandages which they hold in their hands in front of their bodies. They can be identified from top to bottom, left to right, as the human-headed Imsety and the jackal-headed Duamutef and the baboon-headed Hapy and falcon-headed Qebehsenuef. A single vertical column of hieroglyphs separates these two pairs of figures. It contains the standard funerary prayer, which may be translated as follows, “A boon which pharaoh gives to the god Osiris, foremost the Westerners, the great god, the lord of Abydos, so that the god Osiris might in turn grant an invocation offering of [bread and beer], oxen and fowl, wine…”

According to its style, our panel belongs to a typology of anthropoid sarcophagi which enjoyed great popularity from Dynasty XXVII to XXX. This was a period of intense foreign interaction during which time Persians successively asserted their authority over Egypt. The Egyptians in turn steadfastly adhered to their millennia-old religious beliefs. The predominant black color of our example is in accord with such an assessment because black came to symbolize the fertile alluvial soil from which the agricultural life of the country sprung. The color black was, therefore, symbolically charged with associations of resurrection and rebirth and served as an appropriate color for such anthropoid sarcophagi.


For comments on some of these black-colored anthropoid sarcophagi, particularly those dated to Dynasty XXX, see, John H. Taylor, Egyptian Coffins (Bucks 1989), page 62, number 51.

- (X.0443)


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