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An Egyptian Funeral Cortege

An Egyptian Funeral Cortege.jpg Egyptian Sledge-HearseThumbnailsEgyptian bronze representing a flying manEgyptian Sledge-HearseThumbnailsEgyptian bronze representing a flying manEgyptian Sledge-HearseThumbnailsEgyptian bronze representing a flying man

It need not be inferred from what we have written that all bodies were hidden away in the tomb. On the contrary, many were consumed on the funeral pile, some were buried in the earth, while others again, after they had come from the embalmer's shop, were kept in the house for years, until finally they were deposited in the catacombs. The mourning for a good king lasted the space of seventy days, during which the people sang hymns commemorating his virtues, reading their garments, and covering their heads with mud and dust, some three hundred persons of both sexes coming together twice each day to publicly sing a funeral dirge, the entire nation abstaining from meat and other dainties during the whole time. On the last day of mourning, or in some instances many months afterward, the time for sepulture arrived. Supposing that an embalmed king is to be laid away, perhaps in a tomb on which a lifetime of preparation has been bestowed, the body is now brought out from the closet, where it has been carefully stored since the funeral ceremonies were performed, and given to the undertaker, who comes with a sledge-hearse, as shown in the engraving.
The several figures are thus arranged: in the center appear the sacred cows, decked with elegant blankets and ornamental head and neck gear, which last (of a peculiar pattern) is found attached to the heads of all female animals, in Egyptian bass-reliefs, drag-ropes in this case being fastened to the horns, evidently " more for ornament than use," two attendants furnishing the motive-power, while the third acts as conductor. In the foreground are four more representatives of the genus homo. First, we notice the priest, as indicated by the peculiarity of his dress. He appears in the act of anointing the dead body with sacred oil, or some other liquid, from a vessel of peculiar shape. Just in front of the priest, squatting near the earth, we find a mercenary mourner, her hair disheveled, her breasts exposed, and her hands fixed in the position most expressive of grief, no doubt crying as sincerely as in hired mourning it has ever been done. Around the third figure centers the greatest interest, since it represents the dead dressed in cerements for the tomb, to which the body is now about to be carried. The fourth, supporting the corpse in a leaning position, represents an attendant, who, in all probability, officiates both as priest and undertaker.

The World on Wheels and its associations.
By Ezra M. Stratton
Published in 1878 br>Available as a free download from
Death, Egypt, Transport