year: 2008
isbn: 9780900416873
pages: XIV-470 p.
price: 80 euro
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Crowns in Egyptian Funerary Literature
Royalty, Rebirth, and Destruction
This book presents a new approach to analysing the image of ancient Egyptian kings and gods. The author studies textual evidence rather than the often stereotyped iconography, focusing on mentions of the king's White and Red Crowns and demonstrating that they possess a wide-ranging symbolism that transcends the terrestrial sphere to encompass the divine and the cosmos, death and rebirth.
In funerary texts of the Old and Middle Kingdoms (ca. 2300-1700 BCE), crowns play a part in the deceased king's ascent to the sky and transfiguration, enabling him to assume the form and powers of a celestial god. Crowns express such attributes as the legitimate rule of gods or of the deceased, as well as radiance; they are also metaphors for cosmic events. Personified as goddesses, they are the deceased's mothers and nurses. These symbolic functions are integrated into richly metaphorical texts that combine the explicit with the allusive and the concrete with the evanescent.
The book discusses occurrences of the White, Red, and Double Crowns in the Pyramid and Coffin Texts, as well as other selected examples. A major section reinterprets the famous "Cannibal Spell" as a description of sunrise that fits seamlessly with the themes of other texts.
This study will be of great interest not just to Egyptologists but also for the parallels it offers for styles of royal and divine symbolism that are found in many civilizations.