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On Anubis, Masks, and Uniqueness of Facsimile #1 in the Book of Abraham
Research by Kerry A. Shirts
An Anti-Mormon critics said:
The artist was NOT DRAWING A MAN WITH A MASK, he was drawing ANUBUS, the guide to the dead. Do we need to be reminded that this facsimile was not a photograph of a ritual but an artistic rendering of a man's journey into death, just as the ritual was an enactment of same. The figures drawn were not meant to be priests representing their gods but the gods themselves, therefore, it is incorrect to say that the figure REPRESENTS , since it is an attempt to separate a single element of a very problematical package and rationalize around it's problem while ignoring the significance of the problems as a group. Each and every one of Joseph's explanations must be separated out and excused by the LDS believer while the unbiased investigator can merely take the egyptologist's explanation at face value and find it completely consistent with Egyptian religion of the period the facsimile was produced. Even the date of the piece must be rationalzed away along with the multiple problems in the drawing itself.
Well, not necessarily. John Gee in his partial Masters Thesis, "Notes on the Sons of Horus" shows a priest officiating with an Anubis mask on absolutely CLEARLY wearing a mask. It shows a side profile of the man with the outline of the mask over his head.The illustration is from Mariette's "Dendera".
Also found in Siegfried Morenz, Gott und Mensch im alten Agypten, p. 181. Gee also notes that in Hans Kayser, "Das Pelizaeus-Museum in Hildesheim" (Hamburg: de Gruyter, 1966), p. 70 that Seeber says that the representation (darstellungen) there that the rule makes it possible that there is not a distinction (Unterscheidung) between the deity and the masked priest (maskierten Priestern) who is in the deities role, who is also wearing the deities' mask. (Gee, p. 26, note 159). Hatshepsut tells how her father made love to her mother in the disguise of the god Amon, with "attendant priests... masked to represent her fellow deities." (Nibley - "Abraham in Egypt", p. 130). These are just two examples of many we have showing that persons did wear the deities masks and in fact took over the gods' roles and attributes and in fact were considered the god in the Egyptian rites and rituals. In fact, Lewis Spence in his book "Egypt" says that a certain mummy was taken from a coffin and placed upright against the wall of the mastaba "by a priest wearing the mask of the jackal-headed god Anubis." (p. 30). Sir Alan Gardiner, "Egyptian Grammar," 3rd edition, says "The Horus-name... represents the king as the earthly embodiment of the old falcon-god Horus... and as such was identified with the sun-god Ra" (p. 72).W.V. Davies in his text "Reading the Past: Egyptian Hieroglyphics," (p. 46) notes an inscription from a stela mentioning year 19 of King Nubkaure:
h3t-sp 19 hr hm n ntr nfr nswt-bity Nbw-k3w-r year 19 under the majesty of the good god, king of Upper and Lower Egypt, Nub-kaure (Ammenemes II of the 12th Dynasty). Note: in this inscription the god IS the king.
Furthermore, Gee also noted the importance of realizing how correct Joseph Smith was in saying the officiant in the Lion Couch was a priest! He is refuting Ed Ashment.
Masks and Priests
FARMS, Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 7, Number 1, p.79f
Ashment's booklet also adds yet another item of bibliography to the completely irrelevant debate over whether the head of Figure 3 in Facsimile 1 of the book of Abraham has been restored properly (p. 13). The figure in Facsimile 1 has a bald human [p.80] head; the critics argue that it should be a jackal's head. (Joseph Smith Papyrus I presently is missing the figure's head.) This particular questionone on which Ashment has lavished his best work everis of absolutely no significance. To see why, consider the following:
(1) Assume for the sake of argument that the head on Facsimile 1 Figure 3 is correct. What are the implications of the figure being a bald man? Shaving was a common feature of initiation into the priesthood from the Old Kingdom through the Roman period. Since "Complete shaving of the head was another [p.81] mark of the male Isiac votary and priest" the bald figure would then be a priest.
(2) Assume on the other hand that the head on Facsimile 1 Figure 3 is that of a jackal, as was first suggested by Theodule Devéria. We have representations of priests wearing masks, one example of an actual mask, literary accounts from non-Egyptians about Egyptian priests wearing masks, and even a hitherto-unrecognized Egyptian account of when a priest would wear a mask. In the midst of the embalmment ritual, a new section is introduced with the following passage: "Afterwards, Anubis, the stolites priest (hry sst) wearing the head of this god, [p.82] sits down and no lector-priest shall approach him to bind the stolites with any work." Thus this text settles any questions about whether masks were actually used. It furthermore identifies the individual wearing the mask as a priest.
Thus, however the restoration is made, the individual shown in Facsimile1 Figure 3 is a priest, and the entire question of which head should be on the figure is moot so far as identifying the figure is concerned. The entire debate has been a waste of ink. It is ironic that the best work Ashment has ever produced, Egyptological or otherwise, has been spent on a point that makes no difference in the end. The question is not "whether or not Joseph Smith's reconstruction of the standing figure in his lion-couch vignette is accurate" (p. 13) but whether or not the figure is identified correctly as a priest. It is. [p.83]
The description of this scene from the tomb of Neferhotep says "the bald-headed priest with the panther-skin is the Sem; the priest holding the mummy is dressed as Anubis." Adolf Erman, Life in Ancient Egypt, pp. 320f. Nina M. Davie's article, "Some Representations of Tombs From the Theban Necropolis," in the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 24(1938) noted that in funeral processions "a priest personifying Anubis supports it" [the mummy, pictured on page 30]. A. M. Blackman in his article "Some Notes on the Ancient Egyptian Practice of Washing the Dead," in the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 5 (1918), noted that the living Pharaoh was considered the embodiment of the Sun-god while here on earth (p. 117). And when the priests were performing their lustration rituals in the temple, they wore masks. In fact, "We know that a jackal mask was worn by the chief embalmer, who impersonated Anubis at the embalment and burial ceremonies." (pp. 117, 118). Hans Bonnet in his Reallexikon der Agyptischen Religionsgechichte, states that masks were used unequivocally to represent Anubis, (p. 441). Kate Bosse-Griffiths in her article "A Beset Amulet From the Amarna Period," in the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 1977, shows actual Beset masks on pp. 103f, and contends that the dancers who wore these masks were impersonating the deity. (pp. 103-105). Mercea Eliade in his magnificent study of Shamanism noted that ancient tribes throughout the ancient world wore masks because "masks represent the ancestors and their wearers are believed to incarnate these." (Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, Princeton Univ. Press, 2nd printing, 1974, p. 166). We read further that "the mask manifestly announces the incarnation of a mythic personage (ancestor, mythical animal, god)." The idea being obvious, "it transforms him, before all eyes, into a superhuman being." (p. 167f). For the last 100 years in Egyptian Archaeology and thought it has been understood that priests wore masks representing the deities they were trying to impersonate! Critics are simply wrong by claiming otherwise.
Many of the chapters in the Egyptian Book of the Dead were drawn with priests wearing the Anubis Masks.
Above is a scene from Kerasher's Mummy. The description by Faulkner is "The mummy is held upright by a priest wearing a jackal's head while water is poured over it..." (Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead - also notice the priest pouring the water is bald.)
This is another illustration used in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the depcition saying "The mummy is held up...by a priest wearing a jackal's mask..." (Faulkner, Egyptian Book of the Dead)
This is Hunefer's mummy, held up by a priest wearing the jackal's mask, while Hunefer's widow weeps. Illustrates Egyptian Book of the Dead Spell 23.
And finally, Bob Brier in his very interesting book Egyptian Mummies, William Morrow and Co., 1994, p. 76 shows an actual existing Anubis mask which he says "Anubis mask worn by a priest at a mummification." It's all very interesting how when we look further into the issues, that Joseph Smith's claims are confirmed archaeologically. I know James David quotes Wallis Budge to the effect that there is no archaeological value to Smith's claims, but archaeologically, Joseph Smith is far stronger confirmed than critics apparently are willing to let on to.
The Lion Couch is Extremely and Significantly Unique
An Anti-Mormon said:
The Fac. # 1 is a typical funerary scene and there are several extant papyri, all showing the same basic scene with the same characters in the same positions.
Our facsimile 1 typical? I think not, but then what can we do but examine the evidence? Hugh Nibley has pointed out as of 1968 that our facsimile #1 is unique among the so-called lion-couch scenes in the Egyptian papyri. Here are the areas he claims is unique. These are features in Joseph Smith's facsimile which are in no others:
1. In how many lion-couch (hereafter cited as lc) scenes are the figures on the couch with both hands raised? NONE.
2. How many other lioncouch scenes have one hand upraised without having the other clearly visible? NONE. Though there is one example that the hand is shown beside the body, but very clearly shown almost touching the knee.
3. How many other lioncouch scenes show the figure on the lioncouch clothed in the manner on our facsimile #1? NONE All are either nude or fully invested as mummy's. One exception is one with just a loin cloth on.
4. How many lioncouch scenes have the figure wearing anklets or slippers? NONE.
5. In how many are the couch, the figure on the couch, and the priest out of line with each other in the strange manner
of the Abraham papyrus? NONE. We have no replicas in which the artist has made such blunders or anything comparable to it.
6. How many have crocodiles beneath the couch? NONE.
7. How many have hatched lines designated as "Expanse" or "Firmament"? NONE of the others have such a design.
8. How many have the twelve gates or pillars of heaven or anything like them? NONE.
9. How many show the lotus and offering table, otherwise common in Egyptian religious and secular scenes? NONE.
10. How many show the resurrection, procreation, or emblaming scene without the presence of the two ladies, Isis and Nephthys, and/or other dignitaries? NONE.
11. Granting Dr. Parker's reconstruction, when a bird is shown flying over the middle of the couch, how often is Anubis in the position shown? NEVER.
12. How often is any bird shown with wings drawn in the manner Professor Parker indicates? NEVER.
So our facsimile 1 is different. But are the differences significant? In looking at it with the others (I have a very good sampling incidentally) we don't see the august figures of the gods standing by and the solemn religious dignity they give to the other compositions as they kneel in mourning, stand guard, raise hands in praise, or make magical passes. None of this is in our facsimile #1. At the same time, we are impressed by the rather massive additions - the unfamiliar writing that frames the scene on either side, and the stage-like foundation of elements found in none of the other papyri.
Now it is true that individual sign and figure can be matched rather easily somewhere else, just as every word on this page can be found in almost any English book, but it is the combination ofperfectly ordinary signs that makes extraordinary compositions and we may well repeat the words of Professor Nagel: "It would be easy to find numerous parallels to each of these figures, but that would not mean much... for the combination here is different."
For an Egyptian document to be considered unique, it does not have to be spectacularly different (though this one certainly is!) from the others. It can resemble scores of others in almost every particular yet still have a message to convey that is quite different from the others. (Nibley - "A New Look at the Pearl of Great Price", Oct. 1968).
Now very interestingly, in Fac. 1 the first problem that faced the artist-scribe according to the text (Abr. 1:15)., was to represent a man who was both "fastened upon an altar" *and* praying. He solved this problem with strict obedience to the canons of his art in the only way it could be solved. The man is supine, to indicate his incapacity and helplessness. Note his body does not touch the altar - its position is enough to show that he is on it; nor are the binding ropes shown; for the supine position tells us, according to the Egyptian formula, that he is helpless. This is diagrammatical, not realistic, of course. Now even though the man is flat on his back, he is taking the correct and conventional attitude of prayer. We can now see why it is important to make clear that Abraham in this scene has both hands before him for that not only makes this particular lion-couch scene unique, but it also gives the whole drama of the situation.
Note the man's position on the couch. Note that Joseph Smith says of this that Abraham prayed for his deliverance (Abr. 1:15). Now when we look at the Egyptian determinatives, we see that this position (as you turn the facsimile 1 on edge with the feet down) is the Egyptian determinative for what? PRAYER! In E.A.W. Budge's "Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary", Vol. 1, p. xcvii we can see it obviously, numbers 5,6. I mean, there it is! Samuel A. B. Mercer, "The Handbook of Egyptian Hieroglyphics", p. 150, says it means "worship". Note also that with the hands above the head in prayer, this means "to pray with a pure heart", (Budge, Vol. 2, p. 825). Note also that Sir Alan Gardiner "Egyptian Grammar", p. 23 says it means "praise, supplicate". And on page 445 he says this sign means "praise...supplicate" (# 30). Well all this certainly fits Smith's idea for what the man is doing in facsimile #1! In other words, I like it! No wonder this facsimile is so unique... it is telling a unique story apart from what others might be depicting.
When we look at Georges Posener, "A Dictionary of Egyptian Civilization", p. 60 we see a lion-couch scene, but there is a mummy on the couch, with Anubis clearly embalming him. But our fac. is not an embalming scene as some of the Egyptologists in 1912 incorrectly claimed. Incidentally, the 8 supposed Egyptologists that Spaulding got in 1912, were not all Egyptologists, but several were ministers of Spaulding's own church! So much for honesty as to who they were and their true credentials. That isn't a mummy in fac. 1, the man is moving... praying! On p. 175 we see two more lion couch scenes with the corpses being purified. They are nothing like our fac. #1.
In John Baines, "Atlas of Ancient Egypt", 1980, p. 169 we see a late Roman depiction of a lion couch scene, but again, it's clearly a mummy. It has no pillars of heaven or a crocodile under it either. There are two figures on either end of the couch as well, hardly the combination in our fac. #1. On p. 118 of the same text, we see the lid of the anthropoid coffin of Espamai, with a lion couch on it. But again there are 5 figures either kneeling or standing by. There are 4 canopic jars under the couch, but no pillars of heaven or crocodile. Also the figure on the couch does not show his leg raised not either of his hands or arms. This is not like our fac#1. The lion couch in "The Mastaba of Mereruka", part 1, in the Sakkarah expedition, 1938, is nothing like our fac. #1. The lion couch scene in Raymond Faulkner's "Egyptian Book of the Dead" is clearly a mummy, with only a hawk in it, no other figures by either end of the couch, no crocodile, no clothed praying figure. This is nothing like our fac. #1 either. (plate 17 in the magnificent illustrated book of his edited by Eva Von Dassow). And plate 33 has Anubis bending over a mummy, not a living figure. Now this is funerary.
These two lion couches are the only ones illustrated in Budge's "Egyptian Magic", p. 45, 113 respectively. The lion couch scenes from the Grand Temple of Philae clearly shows us that not all lion couch scenes are funerary at all either... On 3 of the 4 there are mummies to be sure, but on one of them (upper left hand corner), clearly the man (nude as Nibley noted) is moving. And Anubis is nowhere near this one! We know that in the "Book of the Dead" Anubis is "he who is in the embalming chamber..." and the "jackal-god who embalmed the dead..." (Budge, "A Hieroglyphic Vocabulary to the Book of the Dead", pp. 33,47). Margaret Bunson, "Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt", 1991, calls him "Lord of the mummy wrappings" (p. 27); "The patron of embalmers" (p. 99). Bunson also shows a lion couch on p. 175, Anubis is bending over a mummy, clearly unlike our fac #1. Well no wonder Anubis is not by this couch, since the man is alive. The man in fac #1 is alive and praying, and we must remember that Anubis is also considered the sacrificial god, because his embalming knife makes the sacrificial cut on the victim on the couch. Mummification is the sacrifice (Gee, "Four Sons of Horus" p. 22).
Eric Hornung has many lion couch scenes we can compare in his book "The Valley of the Kings", and we have MANY lion couch scenes in Budge's "Osiris" 2 vols. which are easier to get access to. The lion-couch scenes in v. 1, p. 280 show a mummy, but 5 other people/gods are around it, again nothing under the couch, unlike our fac #1 (top). The bottom shows an ithyphallic figure on the couch, with two birds hovering over him (fac #1 only has 1 bird) and other types of creatures under it instead of the 4 canopic jars in our fac #1 (bottom panel). There are other differences, but in v. 2 we have many lion couches we can compare and check with ours. None of them have the combination of figures our fac #1 has.
In some there are no birds, (pp. 24, 26f, 29f, 32f, 33f, 41, 42f, 45ff, 48fff, 55, etc.),while others have one bird, but nowhere in the position as in fac. #1, cf. pp. 23, 38f, 40 (no outstretched wings), 42), others have 2 birds (pp. 25 [note the left is a snake with feathered wings, and the other is a vulture, neither like the bird in fac #1], 27 [note the hawk has a crown on its head - unlike Fac #1, and the vulture also has a crown on its head], p. 51 [Isis & Nephthys with wings providing Osiris with air - hardly birds], 54 [note the two birds sitting atop the rather elaborate big structure around the lion-couch - nothing like our fac #1], while some scenes have 3 birds. And notice no crocodiles, clothed figures on the couches, either with the shendet (the apron body cloth) nor the anklets, no pillars of heaven, no knife in Anubis' hand, none of them have the unique combination of figures as our fac. #1 does.
See, Parker said this was a well known scene from the Osiris mysteries, Young said it belonged to a well known class of documents, as if this explains anything! And other experts said fac #1 was an embalming scene, but Breasted said it was a resurrection scene! Well in Budge's Osiris, vol. 2, p. 29 is CLEARLY absolutely NOT a resurrection scene, the guy is turned all the way over! But he is as alive as the figure in our Fac #1 who is praying! Or Budge, p. 40 is another LIVING figure, as is the one on p. 42 who is sitting up on his knees, and on p. 43 look at that awkward position. So not all scenes are just more of the same standard funerary scenes at all. Critics are wrong on both counts. Fac #1 is not ordinary and it is not funerary. The evidence screams ***AGAINST*** such statements.
Critics think these facsimiles are pictures. THEY ARE NOT PICTURES. What they are is SYMBOLIC DIAGRAMS, obviously. They are describing ritual events, real ancient Egyptian ritual events. And when Dr. Mercer contemptuously said there was nothing in fac #1 to remind him of Abraham, he was right. The drawing is symbolically used to illustrate events in Abraham's life, it is not suppose to be a picture of Abraham. The scenes recorded and the episodes recounted are strictly *ritual*. The facsimiles illustrate the most significant events in Abraham's Egyptian career - his confrontation with Pharoah as a rival claimant for God's priesthood power and the supreme authority on earth. The BofA is a discourse on divine authority, which is also the theme of the 3 facsimiles. The explanations of the facsimiles makes it perfectly clear that they are meant as diagrammatic or formulaic aids to an understanding of the subject of priesthood on earth.
For instance, we read that some figures "signify" others are "made to represent", "answers to", etc. Critics need to begin understanding the nature of the facsimiles, as well as the facsimile themselves. It is rather silly to claim that Joseph Smith drew these all wrong. Joseph Smith didn't draw them, and they are symbols, not exact representations.