This object is described in the catalogue as "offering tablet of the seven sacred oils"
Does anyone know something about these oils?
I chose to distinguish this object: it represents an offerings tablet for the seven sacred oils. It belonged at a certain Teti-ankj-kem and dates from the beginning of the 6th Dynasty. It was found at the time of the excavations led by Zahi Hawass in the area of the king Teti cemetery, at Saqqara.
The object measures 16.5 x 7.7 x 1.5 cm. It includes 7 pots intended to contain the oils, whose names are mentioned above.
The members of the EEF News forum have been solicited to comment on this artefact, and provided this information (thank you to A.K. Eyma).
"The seven sacred oils are those used in the Opening of the Mouth Ritual for the anointing of the mouth and eyes of the statue or mummy of the deceased. For more information see The Book of Opening the Mouth, E.A. Wallace Budge, 1909. . or look under "Opening the Mouth" in any modern egyptological reference work. What is good about Budge's work is he reproduces the hieroglyphic text and the vignettes of the ritual."
"Oils were attested in ancient Egypt from as early as dynasty I, recorded on some of the jar labels from royal tombs, for use in ritual. They were also later used for medicinal purposes, perfume production and for massage, as well as mundane household purposes such as for cooking and lamps. Stone tablets with indentations for oils are known from the Old Kingdom onwards, sometimes as part of burial equipment and I believe they were used in the 'Opening of the Mouth Ritual'. The body of the deceased was annointed with oils in a particular order during the funerary ritual. Suggestions for the reading of the Seven Sacred Oils listed in the tablet in the Centenary Exhibition are as follows (from right to left):
setji-heb oil (festival perfume) [sT(i)-Hb]
sefetji oil (unknown origin) [sfT]
heknu oil (oil of praising) [Hknw]
nekhenem oil (unknown origin) [nXnm]
tewat oil (unknown origin) [twA(w)(t)]
ash oil (best quality oil of conifer or cedar) [HAt aS]
tjehenu oil (best quality oil from Libya) [THnw]
(Su Bayfield) "
"It seems that the 7 sacred oils can be placed in a funerary context as early as the 4th Dynasty, each associated with a jar of a specific shape. They recur in tomb art of the Middle and New Kingdoms; and are well represented in the Asasif tombs of the Late Period where they are often depicted beneath the chair of the tomb owner. All seven jars appear, for example, beneath a chair in the tomb of Pabasa, TT279. There is some discussion of these objects in an article by E.V. Pischikova entitled 'Representations of Ritual and Symbolic Objects in Late XXVth Dynasty and Saite Private Tombs' JARCE 31 (1994) pp.63-77. Pischikova indicates that all seven types of jar are first attested in a 'royal funerary context' in a scene showing offering bearers in Hatshepsut's temple at Deir el Bahri. The explanation given for the symbolic use of the oils is that they were poured onto the head of the deceased in the maner that Osiris was annointed by Horus to give the deceased the 'spiritual power for resurrection' - Pyramid texts also associating sacred oils with the emblem of the eye of Horus."
"There is a special study on this subject : Basma Koura, Die "7-Heiligen Öle" und andere Öl- und Fettnamen. Eine lexikographische Untersuchung zu den Bezeichnungen von Ölen, Fetten und Salben bei den Alten Ägyptern von der Frühzeit bis zum Anfang der Ptolemäerzeit (von 3000 v. Chr. - ca. 305 v. Chr.), Shaker, 1999 (Aegyptiaca Monasteriensia, 2). Pb., 322 pp. ISBN: 3-8265-6404-9, price: EUR 54.50 ".
And coming from ouside EEF, Elizabeth Mehlin provided the following information :
"James P. Allen translator, edited by Peter Der Manuelian, (2005), The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts, Society of Biblical Literature, Atlanta, Page 22.
This text comes from the tomb of Unis. The capital letters indicate instructions to the priest. The numbers come from Allen. (I take back my idea that some of these oils could be faked with just any oil. You don’t mess around with something as serious as this).
This anointing ritual is the same as the one found in Teti’s tomb. I understand the anointing is done with the little finger. Before the anointing ritual came the rituals of libation, cleansing, cleansing the mouth, mouth opening, and mouth opening meal. After the anointing came the ritual of the presentation of eyepaint, then linens, then another cleansing, and then the preparation of the offering table.
• 46 Osiris Unis, I have filled for you your eye with oil. RECITATION 4 TIMES. “FESTIVAL-SCENT” OIL
• 47 Osiris Unis, accept the foam that is from his face. “JUBILATION” OIL.
• 48 Osirus Unis, accept Horus’ eye, on which he caused the devastation. PINE OIL
• 49 Osirus Unis, accept Horus’ eye which he rejoined. “REJOINING” OIL
• 50 Osirus Unis, accept Horus’ eye, with which he got the gods. “SUPPORT” OIL
• 51 Ointment, ointment, where should you be? You on Horus’ forehead, where should you be. You were on Horus’ forehead, but I will put you on this Unis’ forehead. You shall make it pleasant for him, wearing you; you shall ankify him, wearing you; you shall make him have control of his body; you shall put his ferocity in the eyes of all akhs who shall look at him and everyone who hears his name as well. FIRST CLASS CEDAR OIL
• 52 Osiris Unis, I have gotten for you Horus’ eye which he acquired, to your forehead. FIRST CLASS LIBYAN OIL"