Rare Egyptian coffin achieves more than at Bonhams Antiquities sale

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Rare Egyptian coffin achieves more than at Bonhams Antiquities sale
An Egyptian painted wood anthropoid coffin for the lady Irtwrw, Third Intermediate Period-Late Period, circa 25th-26th Dynasty, circa 747-525 B.C.173cm high. Sold for £406,800. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- A rare Egyptian painted wood coffin came to auction for the first time at Bonhams Antiquities Sale on Thursday 6 July 2023. The elaborately decorated coffin for the lady Irtwrw, circa 747-525 B.C, in a remarkable state of preservation, achieved an impressive £406,800, against a pre-sale estimate of £80,000 - 120,000.

Francesca Hickin, Head of Antiquities at Bonhams commented, “This was an exceptional and very rare piece in a fantastic condition. Egyptian painted wood coffins, complete with their full lid and back, rarely come up for auction and this one had excellent provenance as part of the remarkable Bodo Bless collection of Egyptian Antiquities.

This was the best example of an Egyptian anthropoid coffin that we have had at Bonhams, and having never been offered at auction before, or been on the market since it was acquired in 1965, we are not surprised it caused such excitement.”

The intricately painted and inscribed coffin depicts scenes of the lady Irtwrw’s journey into the afterlife. In the rituals for burial ceremonies, spells were cast, and gods invoked, to guarantee her eternal life. The deceased is named only once on the coffin in a scene showing her lying on a funeral bed, while being tended by the jackal headed god of mummification, Anubis. Osiris, the god of the underworld is depicted, along with his wife Isis and the four sons of Horus. The back of the coffin is decorated with the standing winged figure of the goddess Nut, the goddess of the sky and heavens, with the three hieroglyphs naming her.

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