The Quest for Immortality: Treasures of Ancient Egypt

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Coffin of Paduamen Coffin of Paduamen, with inner board and lid
Twenty-first Dynasty, reign of the High Priest Pinudjem II,
1069-945 BC
painted and varnished wood
The Egyptian Museum, Cairo

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ALAN SHESTACK: The coffin and mummy board here belonged to a priest named Paduamen. At the right, on the large coffin lid, we see him in the form of a mummy. His hands are crossed on his chest like the god Osiris, lord of the Underworld, for Paduamen hopes to come back to life as Osiris himself did.

DAVID O'CONNOR: In the center of the lid, is the goddess Nut who spreads out her wings to enfold the dead, and protect him from any supernatural danger.

AS: Below, Paduamen and his wife make offerings to the gods.

At the left, the slightly smaller mummy board closely mirrors the decorations on the coffin lid. It would have been placed inside the coffin, directly over the mummy wrappings, adding another layer of physical and magical protection. Here, above the hands, you'll find images of a winged scarab and a sun disk. The scarab represents the rising sun.

At the far left, we look into the bottom part of the coffin. The main figure on it is the winged goddess of the West, representing the entrance to the netherworld.

The underside of the mummy board depicts Maat, goddess of truth and rightness, with ankh signs looped on her arms, the symbol for life. She stands on the hieroglyph for gold, which is also a symbol of the sun. On the reddish-brown interior of the coffin lid, is an image of the mummy god Osiris. You may wonder about his vivid green skin.

DO: It partly has to do with the fact that he's a god of vegetation, because you know, vegetation seems to grow up out of the earth, out of the netherworld, and so the green of Osiris also refers symbolically to the hope of renewed life for the dead.