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Egyptian Art

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Inner Coffin of Pa-debehu-Aset

332 BCE-30 BCE
Ptolemaic Period (332 -30 BCE)
72 1/16 x 20 7/8 x 18 7/8 in. (183 x 53 x 48 cm)

Egyptian artist

Object Type: Furniture
Medium and Support: Wood, polychromy, gilding, with glass, stone and shell inlay
Credit Line: Marion Stratton Gould Fund
Accession Number: 2000.11.2
Location: Currently on view
Link to this object

This pair of nesting coffins once held the mummy of Pa-debehu-Aset, an Egyptian official from the city of Asyut, midway down the River Nile.

Pa-debehu-Aset’s mummy, now lost, would have been placed in the anthropoid, or human-shaped, coffin. The anthropoid coffin would have nested in and been protected by the rectangular outer coffin, called a shrine coffin because it resembles the sacred shrine of a god. Both of Pa-debehu-Aset’s coffins are decorated with images and symbols of the gods, goddesses, spells and prayers that would guide his soul into the afterlife.

Like all ancient Egyptians, Pa-debehu-Aset believed that the mummy was the eternal dwelling place for the spirits of the deceased. The divine powers of gods and goddesses would protect him during his life and after his death. Because of its human shape, the anthropoid coffin could serve as a substitute body should Pa-debehu-Aset’s mummy be destroyed.

[Gallery label text, 2009]

Private collection, Lucerne, Switzerland; purchased from that owner by the family of Dr. Andre P. Lagneau, Neuchatel, Switzerland, ca. 1970; purchased from Dr. Lagneau by Francis Wilhelm, Geneva (dealer); purchased from him by Antiquarium, Ltd., New York (dealers); purchased from them by the Gallery, 2000

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Web Links See links to web pages and lesson plans
Protected for Eternity: The Coffins of Pa-debehu-Aset, Gallery Guide Explore the world of Pa-debehu-Aset, and the sacred stories that relate the Egyptian journey to the afterlife. Learn how a mummy is made, and explore reading and writing in ancient Egypt.
Passport to the Past A Tour of the Ancient, European and Asian Collections of the Memorial Art Gallery.

The Passport to the Past tour and Image Set complement several areas of study and understanding as mandated by the NYS Board of Regents Social Studies curriculum for the sixth grade level as well as higher grade levels.
MAGexplore MAGexplore provides in-depth information and close looking at over 200 objects in MAG's collection.
Integrity of the Ancient Hand (captioned version) Describes the conservation of the Coffins of Pa-debehu Aset
Integrity of the Ancient Hand Describes the conservation of the Coffins of Pa-debehu Aset

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