An Egyptian Mummy Cloth

By: M. M. C.

Originally Published in 1936

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DURING the Roman Period in Egypt (30 B. C.-395 A. D.) one Ḥor, son Ḥarisēset born of Tedikhety(?), died and for his internment a Mummy Cloth was ordered, painted fittingly with colorful scenes from the Book of the Dead. This cloth-or what remains of it after some eighteen centuries-has lately been added to the collections of the Egyptian Section and is unique among the varied interesting groups of objects brought together in the new Mummy Room.

Piece of cloth with four rows of scenes and hieroglyphics bordering the scenes
Plate V — Egyptian Mummy Cloth of the Roman Period. (Present length 1.115 meters)
Museum Object Number: 36-2-1 / 36-2-2
Image Number: 31452

There are four rows of pictures and around three sides runs a hieroglyphic inscription the text of which is corrupt, as is to be expected at this late date. The band of inscription across the top has been sewn on and a close examination indicates that originally the cloth was wider. The name of the deceased is written along the lower edge. To the left of the center is seen the upper part of the god Shu kneeling with upraised arms against a background painted to resemble the net-work of beads often used on mummies. Just above Shu is the sun-disk emitting rays of light while to the left and to the right are figures representing the deceased in the form of a mummy, though only a trace now remains of the one on the right. This design was without doubt originally the center of the cloth so that we may assume that it was longer by nearly a third.

On the top row men and women are bringing offerings, Anubis lies on his shrine and behind him is the symbol of Abydos, consisting of a wig, with fillet and feathers, on a pole; in the second row the man at the extreme left plays a harp, behind him can be seen a curious black figure like a jumping jack, several shrines (symbolic of the tomb) and a large viper holding a knife. Just below in the third row is a small boat in the center of which is the sun-god Kheprē in the form of a beetle holding between its claws a sun-disk. On either side of the beetle is a human-headed falcon, commonly called a “Ba-bird,” which represents the soul of the deceased. The last row consists of standards, the majority of which are surmounted by birds, dog-headed apes and cows.

The figures are depicted in a crude and heterogeneous fashion typical of the Roman Period but the colors are well preserved and the effect of the whole is very pleasing.

M. M. C.

Cite This Article

C., M. M.. "An Egyptian Mummy Cloth." Museum Bulletin VI, no. 4 (May, 1936): 119-120. Accessed July 18, 2024.

This digitized article is presented here as a historical reference and may not reflect the current views of the Penn Museum.

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