Coffin Fragment Showing Mourning Isis
Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art
On View: 19th Dynasty to Roman Period, Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Gallery, 3rd Floor
After Osiris's murder by Seth, Isis and her sister Nephthys mourned the death of the benevolent god-king. Their grieving may be seen as preparation for the god's magical "rebirth." In allusion, the Egyptians hired professional mourners to participate at funerals. It was believed that just as the goddesses helped bring about Osiris's resurrection, so too would the presence of mourners at a funeral help ensure the deceased's rebirth.
ca. 664-332 B.C.E.
Dynasty 26 to Dynasty 31
Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
One foot of an anthropoid coffin lid, bearing a polychrome likeness of the goddess Isis. Isis strides left, her right hand clasping the wrist of her left in a gesture of mourning. She is shown wearing a thin two halter costume with no top. A broad collar, bag wig and two bracelets complete the costume. The figure is flanked on either side by a column of hieroglyphs.
Condition: The panel is lacking both lower left and right hand corners. A horizontal crack runs across the panel 2/3 of the way down, cutting the Isis figure at the thigh. An open dowel hole exists in the panel to the left of the Isis, at shoulder level. The background is of a light yellow, some of which has been rubbed away – especially at the top. Isis’ brilliant white garment and drab green skin (all outlined in red and black), are well preserved. The same is true for the inscriptions.
Coffin Fragment Showing Mourning Isis, ca. 664-332 B.C.E. Wood, pigment, 14 3/16 x 12 5/8 in. (36 x 32 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.1992E. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, CUR.37.1992E_wwgA-1.jpg)
installation, West Wing gallery A-1 installation, CUR.37.1992E_wwgA-1.jpg
. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2005
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