In ancient Egypt the dead needed many faculties for restarting his new life in the Hereafter: breathing, seeing, walking…and virility.
Sex was an essential aspect for the resurrection in Ancient Egypt and in the funerary rites some ritual practices were full of sexual symbolism.
Ushabti of Pay and Repit. Lateral view with ba bird. Louvre Museum. XVIII Dynasty. Photo: Raven, M. J. The tombs of Pay and Raia at Saqqara. Leiden. 2005, plate 110.
In this line I would like to focus on the ushabti of Pay (from his tomb in Saqqara), dating from the XVIII Dynasty and exposed in the Louvre Museum (N2657).
It is a double-ushabti showing Pay and his wife Repyt both lying on the funerary bed. Man and woman were depicted in the typical posture for mummies in Ancient Egypt: with both arms crosses over the chests. However there is a great difference in the man’s image. He is being accompanied by a ba bird, with arms and face and whose hands touch the Pay’s body.
And this difference could have very deep sexual meaning….
Egyptian art can hide very important information in small pieces.
That is the case of the stele of Sebekaa in British Museum.
This piece of ancient Egyptian art dates from XI Dynasty and it was found in Thebes. In just a space of 70 cm x 60 cm (aprox.) the Egyptian artist could include a number of typical scenes which dominated the corpus of funerary Egyptian art.
Although the whole composition does not have a narrative logic, the greater part of the activities can be identified: butchery, bakery, offerings…
On the left a detail of the image of the dead being embraced by a smaller human figure.
At the left of the middle register there is an isolated scene, which was not too usual in ancient Egypain art: the dead lies on his bier and he is embraced by a smaller figure. According to the information from the British Museum’s website: “The man on the bed is probably the deceased, and the figure on top of him might be one of a variety of goddesses, such as Isis, Nephthys and Nut, who embrace him. Whether there are any sexual connotations in this scene is uncertain”.