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Coffin of Nesykhonsu
Coffin of Nesykhonsu
c. 976-889 BC
Part of a set. See all parts
Gessoed and painted sycamore fig
Overall: 70 cm (27 9/16 in.)
Gift of the John Huntington Art and Polytechnic Trust 1914.714
Egyptian coffins told stories and illustrated spells to help the deceased transition safely to the afterlife. Inside Nesykhonsu's coffin there are two jackals, one facing right and the other left, near the top. Here, the jackal represents the powerful deity Anubis, the god of the afterlife and embalming.
A complete set of coffins during the late New Kingdom and Third Intermediate Period consisted of an outer and inner coffin and a mummy board (essentially a lid without a case, placed directly over the wrapped mummy). Judging by its size, this must have been Nesykhonsu's outer coffin. The type is essentially the same as the coffin of Bakenmut, which was also an outer coffin. The two coffins are said to have been found together and to have belonged to a man and wife. This is quite possible, although the inscriptions do not bear it out. Bakenmut is not mentioned on Nesykhonsu's coffin, nor is she mentioned on his. There was by this time a tremendous repertoire of scenes appropriate for coffin decoration. Whereas Bakenmut's coffin features images of deified dead pharaohs, Nesykhonsu's is decorated in a more personal way with scenes from her own funeral. The main scene in the interior (near the top) shows a priest clad in a panther skin with the mummy of Nesykhonsu behind. The god appears in mummy form and wears a sun disk on his head. The scarab beetle inside the sun disk identifies him as Khepri, the morning sun, and the hieroglyphs to the right identify him as Atum, the evening sun. Taken together, image and text represent the sun god in both his rising and setting, youthful and aged aspects.
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