Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Last Judgement of Hu-Nefer

Last Judgement of Hu-Nefer, from his tomb at Thebes Egypt, 19th Dynasty, ca. 1290-1280 BCE. 
Painted papyrus scroll, 1’6” high. British Museum, London.

Tutankhamen’s mummy case shows the boy king in the guise of Osiris, god of the dead and king of the Underworld, as well as fiver of eternal life. The ritual of the cult of Osiris is recorded in the so called Book of The Dead, a collection of spells and prayers. Illustrated papyrus scrolls, some as long as 70 feet, containing these texts were the essential equipment of the tombs of well-to-do person

The scroll of Hu-Nefer, the royal scribe and steward of Seti I, was found in his tomb in the Theban necropolis and represent the final judgement of the deceased. At the left, Anubis, the jackal-headed god of embalming, leads Hu-Nefer into the hall judgment. The god than adjusts the scales to weigh the dead man’s heart against the feather of the goddess Maat, protectress of truth and right. A hybrid crocodile-hippopotamus-lion monster, Ammit, devourer of the sinful, awaits the decision of the scales. If the weighing had been unfavorable to the deceased, the monster would have eaten his heart. The ibis-headed god Thoth records the proceedings. Above, the gods of the Egyptian pantheon are arranged as witnesses, while Hu-nefer kneels in adoration before them. Having been justified by the scales, Hu-Nefer is brought by Osiris’s son, the falcon-headed Horus, into the presence of the green-faced Osiris and his sister Isis and Nephthys to receive the award of eternal life.
In Hu-Nefer’s scroll, the figures have all the formality of stance,shape, and attitude of traditional egyptian art. Abstract figures and hieroglyphs alike are aligned rigidly. Nothing here was painted in the flexible, curvilinear style suggestive of movement that was evident in the art of Amarna and Tutankhamen. The return to conservatism is unmistakable.