Canopic jar with jackal-headed lid and hieroglypic inscription.
Egyptian, New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty. The jar belonged to the officer Min-mose, 1550 BC-1300 BC
Alabaster with traces of blue colour. 40,5 cm
Inventory number: H386
Works, relating to this work: Canopic jar, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, inv. no. 2005.106a, bEnlarge photo
In ancient Egypt the face – the head – of a god was enough to protect the deceased on the journey to the Underworld. With each mummy there were four jars containing the most important internal organs. Like the outer casing of the body, they were dried and embalmed to go to the realm of the dead. On arrival in the Underworld the god of fertility, death and resurrection, Osiris, would judge the dead.
True to tradition, the jars in Thorvaldsens Museum bear the heads of the four sons of Horus, who represented the four points of the compass in the Underworld: to the north a baboon’s head; to the south a human head; to the east a jackal’s head; and to the west a falcon’s head. With the lid on the jar – that is, the head on the body – the organs of the deceased were surrounded by a symbolic divine body. The transformation and the journey to the Underworld had begun.