From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht South, Mastaba of Imhotep, chamber inside the south enclosure wall, MMA excavations, 1913–14
Travertine (Egyptian alabaster), cedar, ointment
Vase: H. 9.2 cm (3 5/8 in.); Diam 10 cm (3 15/16 in.)
Rod with vase: H. 59.3 cm (22 3/8 in)
Rogers Fund and Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1914
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 111
Two male figures, shrine, and fetishlike object were discovered by Metropolitan Museum excavators in a chamber in the enclosure wall of an elite tomb at Lisht South. The object of veneration found inside the shrine was called an imiut, "the one in the wrappings." It consists of a dummy animal (a linen form inside an animal skin), without head or hind legs, fastened by linen strips to a staff whose end rests in a jar containing now-decayed ointment. Early in Egyptian history, imiut fetishes were placed protectively around sacred spaces; later, the imiut was often depicted in relation to funerary gods, especially Osiris. Both the guardians and the imiut played an important role during rites performed over the mummy the night before the funeral.
Excavated by the Egyptian Expedition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Acquired by the Museum in the division of finds.
Arnold, Dorothea 2015. "Guardian Figure and Shrine with an Imiut in a Jar." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 230–32, no. 168.