Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Ceremonial Situla of the 'Great Praised' Penmin showing Nut as a tree-goddess, and Osiris, Isis, Nephthys, and Harsiese

Ptolemaic Period
332–30 B.C.
From Egypt
H. 27 cm (10 5/8 in.); H. with handle 39.7 cm (15 5/8 in.); Diam 16.4 cm (6 7/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Fletcher Fund, 1965
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 134
Just below the rim of this situla is a band of stars indicating the sky, and beneath that is a register of inscription which asks that the 'Great Praised' Penmin give life to Hetepkhonsu, and names various other individuals whose relationship is not entirely clear.Two scenes cover opposite sides of this vessel. In one scene a tree goddess, named here as Nut, pours water down over Penmin on the right and his ba (in the form of a bird) on the left. In the other Penmin adores across an offering table the gods, Osiris, Isis, Nephthys, and Harsiese. A lotus design clasps the rounded bottom of the vessel.
The situla honored the funerary cult of Penmin and also prayed for health for the living Hetepkhonsu. Large situlae with this genre of scenes involving offerings to funerary gods and references to the funerary cult of a deceased derive, when their provenance is known, from the Theban area. There they are most likely to have been associated with the Festival of the Decades, whose celebrations had by this time largely overshadowed those of the Festival of the Valley. The festival of the Decades was thought to be marked by libations performed every 10 days by Amun of Opet to his ancestor primeval gods at the mound of Djeme; this became a context in which certain deceased more generally could share in libations made by the god to his ancestor gods, and a focus of wider observances.

Penmin is given no other titles on this situla than 'Great Praised,' a designation that points to a special category of the dead who had a sort of saint-like status. This title and its possible relation to the Festival of the Decades along with other points about this situla, some of them mentioned above, were illuminated in an unfinished study by the Egyptologist Jan Quaegebeur.

summarized from unfinished Jan Quaegebeur study, Marsha Hill 2011
per Jan Quaegebeur, unfinished ms., 1994:

register below border of stars:

The Osiris, the great praised, Penmin, justified, may life be given to Hetepkhonsu being healthy in eternity; made (commissioned) by the brother of the mother Hor son of Djedherpaheb to make the name of the great praised Penmin, justified, live.

Scene 1 - tree goddess pouring cool water. Text starting from right:

The Osiris Penmin, justified, son of Hor, justified, by Re;

(alongside tree goddess). Nut. (Behind) Take for yourself the water and the cool water coming from the Osiris Penmin, justified.

(alongside the ba) May the ba live

Scene 2 - adoration scene. Text starting from right:

The Osiris, the great praised Penmin, justified, (son of) Hor, justified. Adore this god.

Osiris, foremost of the West, lord of Abydos, great god. I give to you all good things.

Isis. My arms are behind you.

Nephthys. I give you all offerings.

Horsiese. I give you all provisions.
M. D'Anastasi collection by 1857. W. H. Forman collection. Sold at auction, London, 1899 with the Forman collection. Hilton Price collection. Sold at auction, London, with the Hilton Price collection, 1911. Sold at auction, New York, 1964 with the Ernest Brummer collection. Purchased by the museum from Mathias Komor, New York, 1965.

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