TITLE: Canopic jar stopper
CULTURE: Ancient Egypt
PERIOD: New Kingdom, 1552 – 1070 B.C.
MATERIAL: Alabaster and pigment
SIZE: Height 7.5 cm, diameter 8 cms.
PRICE: 7,500 euros.
PROVENANCE: A private collection in Brussels. Acquired by the Harmakhis Gallery (Brussels).
CONSERVATION: Intact, with a slight loss of black polychrome in the eyes.
This is a canopic jar stopper representing the human-headed Imseti, one of the sons of Horus. The eyes and the eyebrows are drawn with black pigment, giving life the face. The alabaster the piece is made of is an egg-yolk yellow.
The system of conservation of bodies through mummification, an essential rite in Egyptian funerary practices, called for the extraction of the human organs that, once dehydrated with natron, were placed in recipients in the form of jars, called canopic jars.
From the time of the Old Kingdom, these jars were used in burials. They were closed with stoppers which, in the beginning were plain ones, but in the Middle Kingdom acquired the form of human heads. From the time of the Eighteenth Dynasty the lids took on the form of the Four Sons of Horus, funerary gods responsible for the protection of the human organs. These four were the human-headed Imseti, protecting the liver; the baboon-headed Hapi, protecting the lungs; the jackal-headed god, Duamutef, protecting the stomach, and Qebehsenuef, the falcon-headed god protecting the intestines.
It is sure that this piece is one of a set of four human heads, as another piece identical to this one has appeared on the antiques market.
- MARTÍN, Francisco; BEDMAN, Teresa. Azules Egipcios. Pequeños tesoros del arte. Àmbit, Ayuntamiento de Madrid, 2005.
- RAISMAN V., MARTIN G.T. Canopic Equipment in the Petrie Collection. WARMINSTER, 1984.