Opening of the Mouth Ceremony of Tutankhamun
This scene is unique in its nature. We never witnessed an heir or a successor performing the ritual of the Opening of the Mouth Ceremony on the deceased King. The scene from the north wall of the burial chamber in the Tomb of Tutankhamun shows the brown “freckling” of the paintings that may have resulted when the tomb was hastily painted and sealed, trapping moisture.
The leopard’s body and fur were particularly valuable in ancient Egypt: its fur was worn by the Sem priests performing the ritual of the Opening of the Mouth ritual and often by the king in ceremonies.
In the ancient Egyptian myth, this ritual was first performed by Horus on his father Osiris not only for this latter to enjoy his senses in the Afterlife, but also to declare the legitimacy of the first as the rightful heir of the throne. By performing this ritual on Tutankhamun, Ay secured his position on the throne.
Next comes Tutankhamun in the presence of the sky goddess Nut who makes a nini gesture, thus agreeing him in the realm of the gods. Finally we see Tutankhamun followed by his Ka embracing Osiris in the same features as those of Tutankhamun’s.
Egyptians divided the sky into two parts: in the southern part were the stars called “tireless” (Eg. ihemu uredj), because of their incessant rising and setting, in the northern one those called “immortal” (Eg. ihemu sek), that is, the circumpolar stars, which indeed never set and whose apparent motion circles around the pole star.
Among the stars and constellations of the northern sky, the most important was certainly the Big Dipper. Because of its shape, it was named after a ritual axe called meskhetyu used in the Opening of the Mouth ceremony to “open” the eyes, mouth and ears of the mummy, or the coffin’s, and thus restore the senses of the deceased.
Perhaps no mummy is more famous than that of the boy king, King Tutankhamun. The young king died more than 3,000 years ago at the age of 19. The opening of his tomb in 1922 was an international sensation because, unlike many royal tombs, it had not been looted.
The Opening of the Mouth ceremony
The Opening of the Mouth ceremony was an important ritual in ancient Egyptian religious practices. Its purpose was to restore the deceased person’s senses and abilities in the afterlife, ensuring their well-being and enabling them to partake in the offerings and rituals performed by the living.
The ceremony involved a series of symbolic actions performed by priests on the mummy or the statue representing the deceased. These actions included touching the mummy’s mouth with specific ritual instruments, such as an adze or a special tool called the “peseshkef” and reciting spells and incantations.
The primary goal of the Opening of the Mouth ceremony was to reanimate the senses and faculties of the deceased, particularly the ability to eat, drink, breathe, see, hear, and speak.
It was believed that these actions would enable the deceased to fully enjoy the offerings and sustenance provided by their living relatives and ensure their continued existence in the afterlife.
The ceremony was also seen as a means to awaken the spiritual essence or ka of the deceased, allowing them to interact with the gods and participate in the divine realm.
The Opening of the Mouth ceremony played a crucial role in ancient Egyptian funerary practices, aiming to ensure the deceased’s well-being and enable their active participation in the afterlife.