"Opening of the Mouth" vessel of Perneb, Travertine (Egyptian alabaster)

"Opening of the Mouth" vessel of Perneb

Old Kingdom
Dynasty 5
reign of Isesi–Unis
ca. 2381–2323 B.C.
From Egypt, Memphite Region, Saqqara, Tomb of Perneb, MMA excavations, 1913–14
Travertine (Egyptian alabaster)
H: 8.4 cm (3 5/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Gift of Edward S. Harkness, 1914
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 100
An essential rite performed during the funeral ceremonies was the "Opening of the Mouth." Thought to have evoked the rituals carried out at the birth of a child, this served to restore the senses of the newly deceased (resident in spirit within the mummified body or a statue), so that he or she could once again breathe, speak, eat, drink, see, and hear.

This vessel is part of a set used for this ceremony. It would have held milk, or salt or fresh water (see also 14.7.92; 14.7.93; and 14.7.94).

For a complete set of implements for this ritual, see 07.228.117a-h.
From Saqqara, purchased from the Egyptian government, 1914.

Lythgoe, Albert M. and Caroline Ransom 1916. The Tomb of Perneb. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 33, fig. 22.

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