Book of the Dead for the Chantress of Amun Nauny

Third Intermediate Period

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 126

This papyrus was part of the burial of Nauny, a Chantress of the god Amun-Re who died in her seventies. She also bore the title "king's daughter," which probably means that she was a child of the High Priest of Amun and titular king of the Theban area, Painedjem I. As was customary during the Third Intermediate Period, Nauny's funerary equipment included a hollow wooden Osiris figure, which contained this papyrus scroll inscribed with spells from a collection of texts called the "Book of Coming Forth by Day" – today usually known by its modern name, the Book of the Dead. When unrolled, this scroll is more than seventeen feet long.

On the papyrus are images and texts from a number of spells. The central scene illustrates Spell 125, better known as the Judgment of Osiris or The Weighing of the Heart. Nauny is in the Hall of Judgment. Holding her mouth and eyes in her hand, she stands to the left of a large scale. Her heart is weighed against Maat, embodiment of cosmic order and ethical behavior, who is represented as a tiny figure wearing a large ostrich feather, the hieroglyph that spells her name. On the right Osiris, god of the underworld and rebirth, presides over the scene. He wears the white crown of Upper Egypt, and a curved beard that identifies him as divine. Only his hands, which clasp a crook, emerge from the mummy wrappings that envelop his body. On the offering table before him is a joint of beef. Jackal-headed Anubis, god of mummification and protector of the dead, kneels to read the scales, while a baboon – representing Thoth, the god of wisdom and writing – sits on the beam of the balance and records the result. Behind Nauny stands the goddess Isis, both wife and sister of Osiris. She is identified by the hieroglyph above her head.

The scales balance, indicating that Nauny has led an ethical life and is therefore worthy of an eternal afterlife in the company of Osiris. Anubis says to Osiris, "Her heart is an accurate witness," and Osiris replies," Give her her eyes and her mouth, since her heart is an accurate witness." In the horizontal register above the judgment scene, Nauny appears in three episodes: worshipping the divine palette with which all is written, praising a statue of Horus in his falcon form, and standing by her own tomb.

#3500. Nany's Funerary Papyri

Book of the Dead for the Chantress of Amun Nauny, Papyrus, paint

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detail 2, weighing of the heart