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the back of this slab, cut in outline, are the two signs
refer to the magical protection given by the oils.
THE VASES OF THE FOUR SONS OF HORUS, OR
Canopic jars is the name given to the series of four jars in which the principal internal organs of a deceased person were placed. They were thus named by the early Egyptologists, who believed that in them they saw some confirmation of the legend handed down by some ancient writers that Canopus, the pilot of Menelaus, who is said to have been buried at Canopus, in Egypt, was worshipped there under the form of a jar with small feet, a thin neck, a swollen body, and a round back. Each jar was dedicated to one of the four sons of Horus, who originally represented the four cardinal points, and each jar was provided with a cover which was made in the shape of the head of the deity to whom it was dedicated. The names and characteristic heads of each are: (1) Mestà or Åmset,, man-headed. (2) Ḥāpi, ✯✯, dog-headed.
south, Hapi the north, Tuamutef the east, and Qebḥsenuf the west. These four gods are, in some texts, said to be the children of Horus, and in others the children of Osiris. Each jar was hollowed out and received one of the larger organs after it had been steeped in bitumen and wrapped up in bandages; the covers of the jars were then fastened on by plaster. Mr. Pettigrew examined the contents of one set of vases, and he found that the vase dedicated to Mestá contained the stomach and large intestines; that dedicated to Ḥapi, the small intestines; that dedicated to Tuamutef, the lungs and heart; and that dedicated to Qebḥsenuf, the liver and gall-bladder.
The oldest Canopic jars date from the XIth or XIIth dynasty, and are made of wood or stone. Under the XVIIIth dynasty many handsome sets are known in fine alabaster, aragonite, calcareous stone, and blue or green glazed porcelain. The jars of the XXVIth dynasty are poorly made, and in the Graeco-Roman Period the covers generally lack the characteristic heads of the four gods. Many sets in earthenware have the same diameter throughout, and the gods are painted on them in outline. Wooden jars are often painted in gaudy colours. Several wooden models of Canopic jars are known, and their existence may be due either to the poverty of the friends of the deceased persons or to the dishonesty of the funeral furnisher. But models were buried with the dead under the XVIIIth dynasty, a fact proved by the set of blue glass models (B.M. 51074-51077) which came from the Valley of the Tombs of the Queens at Thebes. When the viscera were left in the body, figures of the four sons of Horus, made of wax, gold, silver, or porcelain, were
laid over the organs that they were supposed to protect. For examples in white and red wax, see B.M. 15563, 15564, 15573, 15578, 8889-91 and 54850. The inscriptions on stone Canopic jars were engraved, and on wood and porcelain jars they were written or painted. In papyri of the XVIIIth and XIXth dynasties, the Vignettes of the 17th Chapter of the Book of the Dead show that Canopic jars were placed in a sepulchral chest, upon the sides of which were painted figures of the four gods, in the form of men, but each having its characteristic head. Out of the cover there rises the sun with the head and arms of a man, and in each hand he holds ankh, "life" (Papyrus of Ani, pl. 8). On papyri and coffins of a later period the jars are shown arranged in a row under the bier. In the 151st Chapter of the Book of the Dead the four gods are shown standing in the mummy chamber, one at each corner; the inscriptions which refer to them read :—
Come have I to avenge father [my] Osiris, not allowing to be done to thee
her åset - f em for thee it upon seat its in
seruţ body thy, make flourish I house thy."
The inscriptions on the outsides of the jars, which are sometimes accompanied by inscribed figures of the four gods, vary considerably; some consist of a few words only, but others occupy several lines. These inscriptions show that each of the four gods was under the protection of a goddess; thus Isis guarded Mesta, Nephthys guarded Ḥapi, Neith guarded Tuamutef, and Selkit or Serqit guarded Qebḥsenuf. The following are examples of the formulae inscribed on these jars :
1 These inscriptions are taken from the set of Canopic jars exhibited in the British Museum, Nos. 886 to 889; they were made for the commander of soldiers
Nefer-ab-Ra-em-åakhut, Psammetichus, son of Neith, son of Ta-ta
nub-hetep. See Sharpe, Egyptian Inscriptions, 1st Series, pl. 114.