Isis the Mourner at the Feet of Osiris. An Ancient Egypt Birth?

We know that the position of Egyptian goddess Isis at the feet of Osiris could be a matter of sex, a way of positioning herself ready for putting over her husband’s body.

Isis and Nephtys at both extremes of the corpse with shen rings. Tomb of Siptah. XIX Dynasty. Valley of the Kings. Ancient Egypt. Photo: www.thethebanmappingproject.com

Isis and Nephtys at both extremes of the corpse with shen rings. Tomb of Siptah. XIX Dynasty. Valley of the Kings. Photo: www.thethebanmappingproject.com

But there is another very important aspect in the dead’s resurrection. We know he becomes a new born, so he needs a mother.

Coffin of Khenstefnakht from the Late Period. Inside the cover, the goddess Nut with her hair standing up. She swallows the evening sun and gives birth the morning sun. Musée Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire (Brussels). Photo: www.vroma.org

Coffin of Khenstefnakht from the Late Period. Inside the cover, the goddess Nut with her hair standing up. She swallows the evening sun and gives birth the morning sun. Musée Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire (Brussels)

Funerary stele of Lady Taperet with an image of Nut in nwn gesture. XXII Dynasty. Musée du Louvre. Photo: www.nybooks.com

Funerary stele of Lady Taperet with an image of Nut in nwn gesture. XXII Dynasty. Photo: www.louvre.fr

In Ancient Egypt iconography the image of the goddess Nut in the inside of the lid of the coffin was a grant for the mummy’s new life. She, as the mother of Osiris, appears in the surface extended with raised arms and disheveled hair.

We have seen that this was a way of representing the birth of Osiris. In fact, Nut, as the vault of heaven would be bended forwards with her hair falling down. In this position she would give birth Osiris (the deceased).

In the funerary ceremony the mourners with their mourning ritual helped in the dead’s resurrection, if this one was considered a new born, he also would need someone making the role of mother. The mourner in the role of Isis could be this woman who, shaking her hair forwards would reproduce the birth of Osiris (the deceased).

We all know that in a childbirth the baby first shows the crown and the head, while the feet go out in the end. If Isis (the mourner) was symbolically giving birth, the correct position in the funerary ceremony (and also in the iconography) should be at the feet of her newborn son (the dead).

Nephtys at the head of the coffin and Isis at the feet. Coffin of Thutmes IV. XVIII Dynasty. Ancient Egypt

Nephtys at the head of the coffin and Isis at the feet. Coffin of Thutmes IV. XVIII Dynasty.

In this case the role of Nephtys would have been helping her daughter’s birth and delivering the baby. That is, her mission was to be the midwife, and for that reason she always appears at the head of the mummy.

Egyptian hieroglyph of a woman giving birth. Relief from the temple of Kom Ombo. Ancient Egypt

Egyptian hieroglyph of a woman giving birth. Relief from the temple of Kom Ombo.

Summing up, the scene of the mummy (Osiris) flanked by the two mourners kneeling, Isis at his feet and Nephtys at his head, could be the image of a birth. One woman giving birth (Isis) and being assited by a midwife (Nephtys). Let’s also rememeber that Egyptian women gave birth kneeling.

Advertisements

3 responses to “Isis the Mourner at the Feet of Osiris. An Ancient Egypt Birth?

  1. Great analysis and research. I very much enjoyed the information and your insight. And one more thing I come from Egypt!

    • Good morning Dr. Ashraf Ezzat,

      Thank you very much for your comment. It is a pleasure to write for an audience who apreciates the work. I hope that this is enjoyful and also useful.

      Thank you very much for being with us and following the blog.

      You come from a great country!!

      Sucran.

      Mª Rosa Valdesogo

      • I find your highly specialized research in hair and mourning/death is extremely important and helpful to other fields and researchers in ancient Egyptian art and mythology.
        BTW, one more time I make films about ancient Egypt .. log on to my website and watch the trailer of my short documentary ” The Pyramids – The story of creation”
        I wish you “Senebti”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s