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funeral train, tomb of petosiris

The funeral cortège and
the Opening of the Mouth ceremony
(Ptolemaic period)

The ceremony of the opening of the mouth

    This ceremony was performed after the funeral cortège (see lower register) had reached its destination. Its purpose was to return to the deceased the use of his organs in the Afterlife. He had to be able to feed himself, recite magical spells, give commands and see.
    In the case of statues of gods it was generally performed in the House of Gold, i.e. the atelier of the sculptor and goldsmith. The eyes and mouth were 'cut' open with a stp (setep) adze, thus enabling the god to see, speak and eat, and at the same time enabling all the other senses as well. The psS-kf (pesesh-kaf) was possibly used to cut the statue's umbilical cord symbolically, the last act of giving birth. In the Pyramid Texts it is used to prepare the mouth:
"O King, I fasten for you your jaws which were divided - psS-kf."
Faulkner: Utterance 37/30a:
    Upuaut was the god of Lykopolis and had the form of a jackal. As a martial Opener of the Path his attributes were a mace and a bow. He was Leader of the Gods and his standard was first in royal processions. He preceded even Osiris and two of his standards were carried at the head of the funeral cortèges. Placed in the grave he guarded the deceased.
O King, I open your mouth for you with the adze of Upuautů Horus has split open the King's mouth, using that with which he split open his father's mouth, using that with which he split open Osiris' mouth, with the iron which issued forth from Seth, with the adze of iron which split open the mouths of the gods.

    A model of a calfs leg is instrumental as well, though its purpose is unclear. The ceremony is very ancient, dating to the Old Kingdom, though details are known only since the New Kingdom.
    An important part of the ceremony were the offerings which the deceased would need in his afterlife. Loaves of bread, cakes, beer, fruit and vegetables, oil, fowl and meat carried in them a life force which could be extracted.
    The mummy was also annointed. Seven different kinds of oil were used for this purpose, setji heb [1], hekenu, seftji, nekhnem, twat, hatet ash [2], hatet tjehenu [3] . The sem-priest offered the vessel and the kher-heb spoke the words:
"Osiris Unas, I have filled thine eye for thee with metchet oil."
"Osiris Unas, there hath been presented unto thee that which hath been pressed out from thy face."
"Osiris Unas, the Eye of Horus hath been presented unto thee, and [Set] hath been made weak in respect of thee thereby."
"Osiris Unas, the Eye of Horus hath been presented unto thee, that it may unite itself unto thee."
"Osiris Unas, the Eye of Horus hath been presented unto thee, that the gods may be brought unto thee thereby."
"O ye Oils, O ye Oils, which are on the forehead of Horus [place ye yourselves on the forehead of the Osiris Unas, make ye him to smell sweet in possessing you], make ye him to become a khu (i.e., Spirit) through possessing you, make ye him to have his sekhem (i.e., Vital Power) in his body, make ye him to have openings before his eyes, and let all the khu (i.e., Spirits) see him, and let them all hear his name. Behold, Osiris Unas, the Eye of Horus hath been brought unto thee, for it hath been seized that it may be before thee."
The Papyrus of Unas
E.A. Wallis Budge The Liturgy of Funerary Offerings, pp 88ff
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Three servant girls, representative for his servants, numerous one doesn't know the number.
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Three servants, representing his male servants, numerous one doesn't know the number.
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Sishu's four daughters: the eldest Nesnekhmetauai, Tekhen, Siturit and the youngest Stairitben.
   Our father, our father. Face us. See this beautiful ceremony. Your son is in front of you, about to make a sacrifice for you while his eldest son performs your purification.
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The chief-lecturer is carrying a scroll.
   The chief-lecturer about to read in the books and to perform the ceremonies of opening the mouth in front of this god.
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Petosiris carrying libations and a censer.
    ... Petosiris, born from the lady Nofritrenpet, about to make sacrifices to Osiris, Re, Thot, Maat, of bread, drink, beef, geese and all good things
- -
Four priests playing the roles of Amsit, Hapi, Duamutef and Kebhsenuf. The first one is wearing a beard, while the others are wearing masks of a baboon, a dog and a falcon. They are bearing the deceased's ka, heart, ba-bird and mummy. Amset:
    I bring you your ka, so it will not be separated from you for eternity, may you rest with your ka and find favour for all eternity.
- -
The first priest is carrying a censer, the second one a vessel containing natron. According to the accompanying text purification by water is followed by natron and incense is used last. The sotem priest performs these rites.
    The perfume, the perfume opens thy mouth. It is the saliva of Horus, the perfume. It is the saliva of ... , the perfume. It is which strengthens the heart of the two lords, the perfume.
Set was often replaced by Geb during the Late Dynastic Period, or his name replaced by the epithet "the evil".
The next priest carries the leg of a bull and the fourth an adze and an instrument called wrt-hkw.
    The sotem taking the leg first opens the mouth and the eyes of the Osiris, Great of the Five, master of seats, Sishu, four times saying: Oh Osiris, Great of the Five, master of seats, Sishu, I've come to embrace thee. I am Horus. I have touched thy mouth. I am thy son whom thou lovest.
Then he opens mouth and eyes with adze and wrt-hkw four times.
- -
The sotem priest Teos, grand-son of Sishu, is wearing a panther skin and a blue wig. He performs the lustration ceremony in which "live", i.e. natural water was used. (Many diseases were transmitted through the use of untreated water, be it by drinking it or performing ablutions. In the case of living priests schistosoma and other diseases might thus be transmitted.)
- - The opening of the mouth ceremony, tomb of Petosiris Anointment, tomb of Petosiris

The funeral cortège and the sacrifice

The mummy of the deceased was transported to its final resting place where the ceremony of the opening of the mouth (see above) was performed.

Funeral train, tomb of Petosiris

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Petosiris, son of the deceased, wearing a priestly robe and short wig is overseeing the cortège..
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Two men dragging sledges by ropes.
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Three priests pull the hearse in the form of a papyriform boat on wheels by a rope. Wheel mounted hearses were exceedingly rare. Generally sledges were used, often pulled by oxen. The open-sided funerary naos contains the mummy (which is not engraved in the stone, but only painted). It is topped by a freeze of Uraeus figures. Isis and Nephthys on either side of the naos protect the deceased.
The sotem dispensing incense is nearest to the hearse, looking backwards towards the deceased.
The priests are wearing blue wigs and loincloths with suspenders.
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Four standard bearers, carrying two canine Upuaut figures, an ibis representing Thot and a Horus falcon.
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Four bearers of sacrifices: a calf, a tall bouquet, a chest and a scroll.
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Three priests in long white robes, wearing blue wigs. These are the shesepu-dekhen mentioned in many religious texts and in captions on the walls of the Festival Hall at Bubastis and the Great Temple at Denderah. They are preceding the train, chanting but without clapping.
- 18
The sacrifice took place after the opening of the mouth ceremony (see top register).

Two men are carving up the sacrificial bull. Its hind legs have been bound and the front leg and head cut off first.

- 9
The funerary chapel, which is reached by a fourteen step stair resembles Theban New Kingdom tombs. It is painted green, the pyramidion on top is red, the floor blue. The mummy leaning against it is Sishu's, the father of Petosiris.
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    The living have done all they can to equip the deceased for afterlife. His ba has been released from his body and has come forth into the day. He is now as ready as he'll ever be to face his judgment. Unlike the Christian Last Judgment where god decides on the fate of everyone in one sitting after this world has come to an end, Egyptians were judged as and when they died.

[1] setji-heb: sTj Hb, festival fragrance
[2] ash: aS, cedar
[3] Tjehenu: THnw, Libya


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-Judgment of the Dead
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These are just suggestions for further study. I do not assume any responsibility for the content or availability of these websites.
-The enigmatic Tekenu by Greg Reeder
-The tomb of Amenemonet TT N░277, Thierry Benderitter
-La tombe "des deux sculpteurs" Nebamon et Ipouky
GotoLe payrus d'Ani
GotoE.A. Wallis Budge The Liturgy of Funerary Offerings
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Update: September 2003