Coffin and Coffin Board of Tanakhtnettahat

Egypt. Dynasty 21, 1075-945 BC
Wood, pigment
1999.1.17 A-C
Charlotte Lichirie Collection of Egyptian Art

This coffin is the most beautiful in the Lichirie Collection and one of the finest to be found anywhere in the world. This exquisite coffin belonged to the Lady Tahat, a chantress in the temple of the god Amun at Karnak. Such women were usually of high rank, as this unusually fine coffin indicates. Women served in temples not as priests, but as chantresses, or singers, who presumably played instruments and recited hymns to the gods. On the coffin lid, the lady Tahat is bedecked in a full wig surrounded by protective gods and symbols and adorned with her finest jewelry. The breathtakingly lovely scenes delicately painted on the sides of the coffin depicted mythological scenes and Tahat being judged in the underworld and reborn into eternal life. Over the mummy was placed a coffin board, which looked like and served as a secondary lid with more decorative elements to protect the mummy.

Download a podcast from the Carlos Conversations series titled Journey to the West in which Dr. Gay Robins, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Art History, discusses the imagery on this elaborately painted coffin scene by scene.