Detail of the Innermost Coffin of Kharushere

This is a close up of the innermost coffin of a man called Kharushere, who was the Doorkeeper of the House of Amun sometime in the 22nd Dynasty (c.800 BCE). His father Bes had the same title, and his mother Tanetheretib was a Chantress of Amun as well as Mistress of the House.

This vignette is on his chest, and shows the man himself being presented to Osiris (seated) by Thoth. Behind Osiris is Isis, and to the right is another goddess (she might be Sopdet but I’m not sure as I can’t find the hieroglyphs for her name in the text).

It’s rather nicely drawn – I particularly like the detail on Kharushere’s fine transparent linen clothing. It’s a shame tho that the person who has painted the blue colour seems to’ve gone for quantity over quality, and so has gone outside the lines in all the hieroglyphs!

Detail of the Innermost Coffin of Kharushere. Kharushere was the son of Bes, Doorkeeper of the House of Amun and Tanetheretib, Mistress of the House and Chantress of Amun. From Sheikh Abd el Gurna, Thebes. Third Intermediate Period, Dynasty 22, c.825-715 BCE. Acc. No.: 86.1.33

It was found at Sheikh Abd el-Qurna by Maspero, and is now in the Met Museum, acc. no.: 86.1.33.

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/1492 and there’s another detail from this coffin one photo to the right.

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=01cb7b91b53d
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=06021546d044

Statue of Wepwawet

This fine fellow (nose-less though he is) is not the jackal god you’re almost certainly thinking of. Instead of Anubis, this is Wepwawet. Here he is present in his role as a patron deity of Asyut where this statue was made.

The cartouches next to his head are those of Ramesses II and I think they are probably part of the title of the man who commissioned the statue rather than naming the king himself. The statue owner was called Siese, and he was the “Overseer of the Two Granaries of Ramesses II”.

The museum refers to it as having a “rather provincial style” and perhaps the whole piece looks a little chunky in its proportions (see the photo one to the left on my site). But personally I think it’s quite fine and I like the details like the wig curving round his jackal ears.

Statue of Wepwawet. New Kingdom, Dynasty 19, reign of Ramesses II, c.1304-1237 BCE. Acc. No.: 17.2.5

It’s now in the Met Museum, acc. no.: 17.2.5

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/871/ and go one to the left for a photo of the whole thing.

I’ve written about jackal gods on the blog before: https://talesfromthetwolands.org/2020/04/21/some-sort-of-canid/

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=15b0d5904ac9
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=0d6d86fdf9ef

Head of a Female Personification of an Estate

This is an example of some ancient royal recycling! It was dug up at Lisht North, in the pyramid complex of Amenemhat I (of Dynasty 12), but was originally created for the pyramid complex of Khufu (of Dynasty 4) at Giza (i.e. to go with the Great Pyramid).

This happened a lot throughout Ancient Egyptian history and beyond – why go to the trouble of quarrying new blocks of stone and carefully shaping them when you could just nick some from a monument of a long dead king and flip them round to carve on what had been the back side.

The female figure on this is the personification of an estate which was endowed by Khufu to supply offerings to his funerary cult in perpetuity – the text and cartouche above her head give the name of this estate: Perfect is Khufu. Khufu was not modest! 😉

Head of a Female Personification of an Estate. Probably from the Pyramid Complex of Khufu in Giza originally, excavated at the Pyramid Complex of Amenemhat I, Lisht North. Old Kingdom, Dynasty 4, reign of Khufu, c.2551-2528 BCE. Acc. No.: 22.1.7

It’s now in the Met Museum, acc. no.: 22.1.7

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/1361/

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=1a90a84eddcb
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=1d91a0e409e5

Detail of the Third Shrine of Tutankhamun

Tutankhamun was buried in a veritable Russian doll assemblage of boxes. He was inside a coffin inside a coffin inside a coffin inside a sarcophagus inside a shrine inside a shrine inside a shrine under a canopy inside a shrine inside a room in his tomb!

The entire thing pretty much filled the room it was placed inside, with just enough space for the painters to squeeze round as they completed the decoration of that chamber. We know they did that last, as the wall through which the containers were brought was also decorated.

This is a detail from the third shrine (we count from the outside in but it’s not clear if the Egyptians would agree that this is the right order). All of the shrines are wood covered with gesso and then a thin layer of gold and all are decorated with texts and images like this.

The decoration here is of two guardians/demons rather than gods. As is usual for such entities they carry knives, presumably in this case to protect the king who rests within. You can also see Tutankhamun’s nesu bity name (Nebkheperure) scattered through the text in cartouches.

Detail of the Third Shrine of Tutankhamun. From KV62, Valley of the Kings. New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Tutankhamun, c. 1334-1325 BCE. Acc. No.: JE60667

When I took this photo in 2016 the shrine was in the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square, Cairo. Now it is in the Grand Egyptian Museum. The old accession number was JE60667.

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/601/

Jigsaw Puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=3fc77c69df3f
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=2f91b07d171a

Ostracon Depicting Meretseger

Not all ostraca are throwaway sketches or notes, some are fully finished objects in their own right. This is one of those – it was found in the temple at Deir el Medina, and shows the goddess Meretseger as a snake in front of offerings of lotus flowers.

Presumably it was a votive offering left there by a worshipper. It seems to be a standard design – I’ve seen another very similar one in Turin where the goddess and the offerings look the same but there is more text on this one than on the Turin one.

Meretseger was a fairly localised goddess associated with the Theban Necropolis. She was particularly worshipped by the craftsmen who worked on the tombs (in the Valley of the Kings etc). This little piece was probably made by one of these craftsmen to win the goddess’s favour.

ETA: Dario Nannini on Facebook tells me that the inscription says it was dedicated by the “servant in the Place of Truth, Meryre, true of voice before the great god”.

Ostracon Depicting Meretseger. From Deir el Medina. New Kingdom. Acc. No.: JE43661

It’s now in the Cairo Museum, acc. no. JE43661.

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/641/

See my photo of the Turin one on flickr: https://flic.kr/p/rYwhT1

I’ve written about Meretseger on the blog in the past: https://talesfromthetwolands.org/2019/10/11/she-who-loves-silence/

Jigsaw puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=0ef7c3793f76
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=17dad0e1a5ac

Cosmetic Jar with Lions, Hunting Scenes and Captives

One way of looking at this is as an ornate jar for a king to keep some sort of cosmetic cream in, maybe it’s moisturiser to keep his skin supple in this life or the next, or perhaps it has ritual significance.

The other way of looking at it is as a very unsubtle piece of royal propaganda. Tutankhamun’s name is on the lion on top, reminding you of the association of the king with this predator and that he is under the protection of lion associated deities like the fearsome Sekhmet.

The side of the vessel has a hunting scene on it. Not just the sport of kings – desert creatures like the gazelle represented chaos, and the hunting dogs (who would be under the control of a human, you can see collars on two of them) are avatars of order.

The imposition of order over chaos is one of the primary duties of the king so this scene demonstrates his power and his upholding of maat. There’s even a lion (you can see its haunches at the right), the king himself joining in the defeat of chaos.

And finally at the bottom you can see three human heads sticking out from underneath it – there’s another one round the other side for four in total. These are the traditional enemies of Egypt, crushed beneath the weight of the king’s power and might.

So it might be pretty, but it’s also a fairly brutal message – Tutankhamun, lord of all he surveys imposing order on the chaos of the world by violence.

Cosmetic Jar with Lions, Hunting Scenes and Captives. From KV62, Valley of the Kings. New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Tutankhamun, c. 1334-1325 BCE. Acc. No.: JE62119

It was found in KV62, Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings, and in 2016 it was in the Cairo Museum (acc. no.: JE62119).

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/625/

I talked a little bit about hunting symbolism in my article on Tutankhamun’s ostrich fan: https://talesfromthetwolands.org/2020/07/11/rich-in-gold-rich-in-meaning/

Jigsaw puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=3d074b98a7d5
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=1dab978a4daa

Ostraca Depicting a Cat Herding Geese

As well as the formal art that we have so much of from Ancient Egypt there are also quite a few examples of informal art drawn on flakes of pottery or stone called ostraca, like this one. It’s part of a genre of art showing animals acting like people.

As there’s no text to go with this (or the other examples) it’s hard to know what the context of the drawing is. It might illustrate some story that was part of the oral culture of the normal people of Ancient Egypt that never got immortalised in any textual sources.

Or it might be a parody of the scenes the artist normally drew – there are parallel scenes of men herding geese (for instance in TT39). Or maybe it’s a satirical comment on the elite? “They’re just like cats herding geese, and you know what a cat does when it catches the goose!”

Ostraca Depicting a Cat Herding Geese. From Deir el Medina. New Kingdom, Dynasty 19-20, c. 1291-1075 BCE. Acc. No.: JE63801

Found at Deir el Medina and now in the Cairo Museum (acc. no.: JE63801).

There’s a paper on animal scenes on ostraca that I found while writing this piece: https://www.mdpi.com/2076-0752/10/3/40/htm

See the photo on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/638

Jigsaw puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=031cb8e86771
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=1bc11297f557

Statues of Rahotep and Nofret

This pair of statues were found in the tomb of the people they represent – Mastaba 6 at Meidum. Rahotep and his wife Nofret were members of the 4th Dynasty royal family, and it’s thought that Rahotep was probably a brother of Khufu who build the Great Pyramid.

Of course they probably didn’t look quite like this. As with all Egyptian art the statues represented them but weren’t a portrait of them (realism as the aim of art is a very modern thing comparatively speaking). This is the ideal, the way they wanted to be for eternity.

I like the details on Nofret’s headband – rosettes and flowers on what I assume would’ve been a strip of white linen in life. And the way her natural hairline pokes out the front from under the thick wig.

Statues of Rahotep and Nofret. From the Mastaba of Rahotep, Meidum. Old Kingdom, Dynasty 4, reign of Sneferu, c. 2575-2551 BCE. Acc. No.s: CG3, CG4

They are now in the Cairo Museum, acc. no.s CG3 and CG4.

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/527/ and go one to the right for a face on photo of Nofret.

Jigsaw puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=1d0f421f65e2
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=0d918c85af84

Statue of a King on a Throne with Lion Arms

Despite being battered by the last few thousand years this statue still manages to convey a sense of solid power and grandeur. Not just aesthetically, either – having the ability to command the skilled labour necessary to make the statue is a statement of power in itself.

I don’t know much about it other than that it was in the Cairo Museum in 2016 when I visited. I think it’s Old Kingdom in date, in part because it was near other Old Kingdom material and in part because the throne arms have similarities to those of the statue of Khafre near it.

And again I make the assumption it’s a king because of the power involved in its creation and the similarity of those lion chair arms.

Statue of a King on a Throne with Lion Arms. Old Kingdom(?)

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/513/

Jigsaw puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=3059ac5c1af5
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=3758ae371339

Vase Decorated with Crocodiles and Hippos

I love the grace and elegance of this vase. Both the physical form of it, and the line of crocodiles spiralling up the side while the hippos sit more chaotically next to them interspersed with zigzag lines that are presumably representing the water these creatures live in.

I say “vase” because if something like this was in my house that’s what it’d be used as – a decorative centrepiece with some flowers in it. But that’s probably not what the person it was made for did with it. Maybe it contained drink, or some food stuff?

I don’t have much information about this object, but I think it’s from the Naqada I or early Naqada II periods – so some 500 to 1000 years before Egypt was unified in 3000BCE. A beautiful survivor of what was clearly a sophisticated and rich culture in the deep past.

Vase Decorated with Crocodiles and Hippos. Predynastic Period.

It’s in the Cairo Museum (or at least it was in 2016 when I visited) but I don’t know the accession number or the provenance.

See it on my photo site: https://photos.talesfromthetwolands.org/picture.php?/481/

Jigsaw puzzles:
easier: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=1111612b5d48
harder: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=06bef5c15c1a