About this artwork
Potent symbols, sacred words, and divine protection helped ancient Egyptians transition from the earthly realm to an eternal existence. Interactions between mortals and the gods were depicted on funerary objects including papyri, like this example made for temple singer Tayu-henut-Mut (“the mistress of [the goddess] Mut”).
This papyrus shows Tayu-henut-Mut standing with raised hands before an offering table, praising the enthroned god Osiris, ruler of the afterlife. Behind Osiris a scribe has carefully copied spells from the Book of Going Forth by Day. First appearing during the New Kingdom (about 1550 BCE), this religious text is better known today as the Book of the Dead, because scrolls were buried with their owners. Tayu-henut-Mut’s copy includes five spells selected from nearly 200 known options to aid in her journey to eternity, including one for “causing a man to remember his name.” Egyptians believed that one would cease to exist in the afterlife if their name was forgotten or no longer spoken among the living.
- Currently Off View
- Arts of Africa
- Ancient Egyptian
- Funerary Papyrus of Tayu-henut-Mut
- Egypt (Object made in)
- 1069 BCE–945 BCE
- Papyrus and pigment
- “Words spoken by Osiris foremost of the West, lord of Abydos, Wenenefer, lord of eternity… that he might give offerings and provisions to the Osiris, the mistress of the house and songstress of Amun-Re, king of the gods, Tayu-henut-Mut, true of voice, daughter of the scribe of the treasury Nes-pa-her-en-(ta-)hat, true of voice.”
- 24.5 × 101 cm (9 11/16 × 39 7/8 in.)
- Gift of Henry H. Getty, Charles L. Hutchinson, Robert H. Fleming, and Norman W. Harris