Model of the "Opening of the Mouth" ritual equipment

Old Kingdom

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 103

The small stone tray holds models of objects required for the Opening of the Mouth ceremony. This rite reanimated the deceased or animated a statue so that it could eat, breathe, see, hear, and otherwise enjoy everything offered to it.

The forked instrument was touched to the mouth of the deceased's mummy or statue; it symbolically restored the individual's capability of independent existence. In addition to the implement, this set includes replicas of the vessels with which the newly revived spirit was offered milk (a baby's first source of nourishment), salt water (used for cleansing), and fresh water.

Forked blades (see 16.2.6) were included in burials throughout the Predynastic Period.The cutting edge is the V-shaped notch. Although the implement's exact purpose is unknown, there is persuasive evidence that it was used at birth to cut the umbilical cord and was placed in the grave to assist its owner's rebirth into the afterlife.

Model of the "Opening of the Mouth" ritual equipment, Tray: limestone; vessels: Travertine (Egyptian alabaster), greywacke

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.

tray with implements in place