Ancient Egypt

Coffin of Sha-amun-en-suMuseu Nacional

Casket of Sha-Amun-En-Su

Plastered and polychrome wood.

In 1876, during his second visit to Egypt, Dom Pedro II was gifted by Quediva Ismail with a beautiful painted skiff of the "Singer of Amon,” Sha-Amun-en-su, which he ended up keeping in his cabinet until the Proclamation of the Republic, in 1889, when the skiff became part of the National Museum’s collection. Later, the Egyptian collection was joined by other objects from donations or particular purchases, accruing up to 700 objects. The tomographic exam executed on Sha-Amun-en-su’s mummy revealed the presence of amulets at the interior of the casket, among them a heart scarab.

Statue of young Egyptian ladyMuseu Nacional

Statuette of young Egyptian lady.

Polychromatic limestone Statuette.

This fragmented image represents an elite woman wearing a pleated linen dress. She holds a lotus flower in her hands, a sign of rebirth, and on the head she carries an incense cone. Female representations such as these are characteristic of this period's sophistication and luxury.

Mummified catMuseu Nacional

Mummified cat

Linen and cartonnage bandages.

The ancient Egyptians also mummified animals, aside from human beings. The most popular were the cats, and their mummies were offered to the cat goddess Bastet. The belief in divine intervention intermediated by a mummified animal, such as this cat, provoked the emergence of a true animal mummification industry, with breeding places and slaughterhouses that supplied the bodies for mummification.

Statue of lactating ÍsisMuseu Nacional

Lactating Isis statue

The goddess Isis is protectress of the household and the family. Here she appears represented breastfeeding her divine son, the god Horus, in the form of a real prince. Images of Isis, in bronze, were very popular in the periods that preceded the arrival of Christianity in Egypt, and might have given origin to images that represent the Virgin Mary.

Statue of god BésMuseu Nacional

Statue of the god Bes

Rock and glass paste.

The god Bes was represented as a grotesque figure, half man, half lion, with the protecting function of chasing away evil. He prevented nightmares, protected newborns, and for that reason was always present in Egyptian households, both rich and poor.

Shabti de HaremakhbitMuseu Nacional

Shabti of Haremakhbit

Shabtis are funerary servers whose role is to substitute the dead in their jobs in the next life. Appearing in the hundreds in some funerary chambers, they are placed next to the dead. This piece, of exceptional artistic quality and in an excellent state of conservation, presents the funerary servers’ classic characteristics in what entails form, instruments, and text.

Low-relief of SehetepibreMuseu Nacional

Low relief of Sehetepibre

This piece is not a stele; it appears to be the previous (left) part of a larger panel. On the right, there is a text that belongs to another, currently disappeared scene, far from the main figure (which is turned towards the left). A margin of relief represents the doorway of a door over which a motif frieze — kheker, indicates the original top of the wall. In the central part, Sehetepibre is shown with its arms extended using a heavy kilt with horizontal lines and on the upper part there is an edge with fringes. He is represented with very large eyes and a rectangular beard. These characteristics explain the original function of this piece. It was the previous part of a wall on the left side of the internal room of the chapel of a tomb or a votive chapel. To the left, a vertical column of hieroglyphs ornaments the border of the panel, the extremity constituted the left doorway of the internal room. (The inferior part of the wall was lost, and the final part of the text on the border of the wall disappeared with it.) The large image o Sehetepibre needed to be turned towards the processional route crossed by Osiris, so that he can “adore god,” and “praise Osiris… in the great procession,” as the inscriptions say.

Phallic amuletMuseu Nacional

Phallic Amulet

Macrophallic figure used as an amulet, representing a man playing a tambourine.

Golden maskMuseu Nacional

Golden mask

Cartonnage with gilding.

Over the faces of the mummies a mask would be placed with the dead’s features, in an idealized form. Frequently, these masks received a gold leaf applique, as a way of assimilating gods, which, according to ancient Egyptians, possessed gold skin.

Statue of lady TakushitMuseu Nacional

Statue of lady Takushit

This woman had the sacerdotal role of “divine wife of god Amun,” for which young women of royal descent were chosen, preferably the daughter of the Pharaoh. This was the role of highest distinction that a woman could exert in Egyptian priesthood, which also counted as strong political power.

Vases CanoposMuseu Nacional

Canopic vases

Canopic vases were used to keep the viscera embalmed during the mummification process. The lids of these exemplars represent Horus’ Four Sons. The lid with a jackal head represents the god Duamutef, and the stomach was kept in this vase. The piece with the baboon head represents the god Hapi and kept his lungs. The falcon head represents the god Qebehsenuef and kept the intestines. Imset, with a man’s head, kept the liver.

Credits: Story

Alexander Wilhelm Armin Kellner

Cristiana Silveira Serejo

Wagner William Martins
Lygia Dolores Ribeiro de Santiago Fernandes
Luiz Fernando Duarte

Antonio Ricardo Pereira de Andrade
Valéria Maria Fonseca de Lima
Marci Fileti Martins
Lydia Maria Gomes da Silva
Lorrana Gonçalves de Alcântara
Déborah Rezende Gouvêa
Christina Aparecida de Lélis

Rômulo Fialdini
Valentino Fialdini

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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