Book of the Dead of Nahkt: Worshiping Osiris, New Kingdom, c. 1336-1294 BC
Papyrus
39.7 (height) x 93.2 (width) cm
Egypt

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This beautiful ancient Egyptian papyrus illustrates a chapter of a Book of the Dead made for Nakht, a royal scribe and military official at the end of the Eighteenth or early Nineteenth Dynasty. Chapters from the Book of the Dead were traditionally buried with the deceased and contained spells offering guidance for smooth passage through the perilous underworld into the afterlife. Here, Nakht is pictured next to his wife, Tjuiu, a musician of the god Amun. Wearing fine linen and elaborate jewelry, they balance ointment cones on their heads while standing before Osiris, King of the afterlife, and Maat, the goddess of truth and order. Osiris’s associations with rebirth and growth are reaffirmed through his green skin and the fertile vine reaching toward him. Above Osiris and Maat, the arms of the sky goddess Nut reach out to catch the setting sun, indicating the chapter’s associations with the worship of the sun god. The house and artificial lake locate this scene to Nakht’s estate, indicating his desire to return to earth. The style and draftsmanship of the illustration are characteristic of those found in other tombs of the period.

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