Friday, 30 May 2014

MODEL OF A MOUTH OPENING RITUAL SET


Metropolitan Museum of Art, Dynasty 5-6, 2400-2200 BC, Provenance Unknown, Limestone, Egyptian Alabaster and Paint, Rogers Fund, 1907.
This set is a miniature model of the most important rite of the funeral 'The Opening of the Mouth' which was intended to restore to the spirit the faculties it's body had possessed during life.
The 'Flinter Splitter,' the long implement in the centre, derives from the flint knives used to cut the umbilical cord of newborns. Pressed to the mouth of the deceased's mummy or status it symbolically restored the individual's capability of independent existence.
The containers on the side are models of the full scale vessels with which the newly revived spirit was offered milk. Milk is significant because it provides a baby with its first nourishment and ancient Egyptians viewed the afterlife as rebirth. In life breast milk was also used in medical prescriptions for head colds, burns, rashes and fever.
Hence these objects were buried with the deceased to ensure the spirits continuous ability to exist after it's daily rebirth at sunrise.

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