the Book of the Dead (Book of Coming Forth by Day)

May 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

This vignette is part of the Greenfield papyrus, the Book of the Dead of the priestess Nesitanebtashru, daughter of High Priest Pinudjem I. It is named after Mrs. Edith Greenfield, the donor of the papyrus to the British Museum, whose husband acquired it in Egypt in 1880. It is one of the best surviving examples of a funerary papyrus. The original document was over thirty-seven metres long, with spells illustrated by a series of vignettes.

One of the most important scenes shows an episode in the creation of the world, according to the Heliopolitan myth. The myth centres on the Heliopolitan god Atum as the creator. He and three generations of his descendants are known as the Great Ennead.

According to the myth Atum created his two offspring Tefnut (Moisture) and Shu (Air) by sneezing and spitting. They in turn gave birth to Nut (Heaven) and Geb (earth). This vignette shows Nut stretched over the earth, represented by Geb, who lies below her. The toes of the goddess are at the eastern horizon, and her fingertips at the western horizon. She is separated from Geb by her father Shu, who holds her up with both hands. This separation did not prevent Geb and Nut having four children: Osiris, Isis, Seth and Nephthys. The myths surrounding these four deities relate to the emergence of human society; the separation of earth and sky constitutes the creation of the world.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading the Book of the Dead (Book of Coming Forth by Day) at The Image and the Death.

meta