Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Religious text of Tanaweruow, daughter of Hartophnakhthes and Tatita

Roman Period, Nero
reign of Nero
A.D. 54–68
From Egypt; Probably from Northern Upper Egypt, Pernebwadjyt (south of Qaw el-Kebir)
Papyrus, ink
Framed: H. 32.2 cm (12 11/16 in.); W. 140.5 cm (55 5/16 in.); D. (13/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Gift of Edward S. Harkness, 1931
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 134
Papyrus Harkness is a religious mortuary text inscribed for the deceased woman Tanaweruow, whose father Hartophnakthes is the principal recitant. The papyrus has recently been fully translated and analyzed, allowing an overview of this unusual text.

The papyrus comprises several sections: a) Hartophnakhthes addresses Tanaweruow at the embalming place, promising to equip her tomb; b) he goes to the tomb and equips it, addressing the tomb as her alter-ego and animating it with the Opening of the Mouth ritual; c) the deceased utters a lament; d) the father returns to the embalming place where he recites texts associated with the hours of the night preceding his daughter's burial; e) the next day he recites texts associated with the hours of the day; f) he recites glorifications to his daughter at the tomb; g) further glorifications conclude with a litany to various gods, blessed spirits, and the deceased herself; h) after his daughter's interment the father speaks to the tomb as the mother of the deceased who will give (re)birth to the one lying within it; i) the father concludes the rites at the tomb with libations. Especially sections a-c and h-i are rather unusual compositions.

The text derives much effect from remarkably vivid imagery. Nautical imagery is prominent, with the deceased's transition to the afterlife described as a voyage on board a ship (the coffin?) which deities provide for her, and they behold her beneath the sails of Osiris which may be a reference to her mummy bandages. The father laments the wastefulness of her loss by comparing her with fruit which has been given to those unworthy of it. The appllcation of a cloth to her eyes and the wrapping of her limbs is described as "the cloud seizing her and the darkness enveloping her," while libations or offerings may be called "dew."
Said to be from Qau el-Kebir. Pruchased by Howard Carter from Nicolas Tano in Cairo, 1924. Purchased in London from Carter for the Museum by Edward S. Harkness, 1925. Donated to the Museum by Harkness, 1931.

Winlock, Herbert E. 1932. "The Costume of an Ancient Egyptian Priest." In The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, vol. 27, no. 8 (August).

Logan, Thomas J. 1976. Studies in Honor of George R. Hughes, January 12, 1977, 39. Studies in ancient oriental civilization (SAOC), Chicago, pp. 147-161, figs. 33-44.

Smith, Mark 1991. "Papyrus Harkness." In Enchoria, 18, pp. 95-105.

Smith, Mark 1999. Studies on Ancient Egypt in Honour of H. S. Smith. London: Egypt Exploration Society, pp. 283-293.

Teeter, Emily and John A. Larson 1999. Gold of Praise: Studies on Ancient Egypt in Honor of Edward F. Wente, 57. Chicago: Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, pp. 358.

Kaper, Olaf E. 2003. The Egyptian God Tutu. A study of the Sphinx-God and Master of Demons with a corpus of monuments, 119. Orientalia Lovaniensia analecta, p. 227 cat M-22.

Smith, Mark 2005. Papyrus Harkness (MMA 31.9.7). Oxford: Griffith Institute.

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