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Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Model of the "Opening of the Mouth" ritual equipment

Old Kingdom
Dynasty 5–6
ca. 2465–2150 B.C.
From Egypt
Tray: limestone; vessels: Travertine (Egyptian alabaster), greywacke
Tray: L. 22 cm ( 8 11/16 in); w. 12 cm (4. 3/4 in); h. 3.2 cm (1 1/4 in)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1907
Accession Number:
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.
Purchased by the Museum from Mohammed Mohassib in Luxor, 1907.

Hayes, William C. 1953. Scepter of Egypt I: A Background for the Study of the Egyptian Antiquities in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Part I: From the Earliest Times to the End of the Middle Kingdom. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 118, fig. 70.

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