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Egypt: Saqqara
First Intermediate Period
Dynasty 9-10, ca. 2213-2035 B.C.
Wood, carved and painted
63.5 cm H, 202.0 cm W
Purchased in Cairo, 1923
OIM 12072

A man named Ipi-ha-ishutef commissioned this coffin and had it decorated with inscriptions and pictures designed to assist him in the afterlife.

The interior of the lid contains spells from the Pyramid Texts to protect the deceased from harm and to facilitate his passage to the netherworld. These texts had been carved on the walls and corridors of royal tombs beginning toward the end of the Old Kingdom (ca. 2755-2213 B.C.). Later, as here, they came to be used by non-royal persons as well and are then known as Coffin Texts.

The eyes painted at the head end of the coffin were positioned opposite the eyes of the deceased as he lay within on his left side. These 'Eyes of Horus' provided him with a magical means of looking out.

Inside the coffin, behind the eyes, is a painted doorway through which the soul of the deceased might pass to visit the outer world. The remainder of the coffin's interior bears representations of items that the deceased had used on earth and would need in the afterlife, such as food, drink, clothing, and weapons, as well as royal insignia, resting mostly on low stands.

This coffin was excavated near the pyramid of King Teti at Saqqara. Ipi-ha-ishutef's title was "Scribe and Overseer of the expedition [or army]."



Revised: November 12, 1997
Copyright 2006 Oriental Institute, University of Chicago