South wall, west end: couples receiving offerings
( pl Davies-XXIV/1) On the south wall, as on the north wall, we find excerpts from the Pyramid Texts and Coffin Texts that have their counterpart in papyri of the time, such as BM 10819 ( drawing Hays). These texts disappear from the accessible parts of the tombs from the reign of Amenhotep III onwards, along with a reduction of the space given over to the Ritual of Opening the Mouth and with the introduction of new decorative canons of the Ramesside period.
The four tables are located behind the four deities which we have mentioned above. In three of the above scenes, Rekhmire and his wife Meryt sit before a well-stocked food offering table. These offerings are dedicated by their sons Menkheperrêseneb, Mery and Amenhotep, all of whom remain only as excised outlines because, in their role as sem-priests, they were covered with a leopard skin ( view cm-677/1).
The scene at the bottom also includes a "placard" by which term is meant an (inscribed) table detailing the offerings. Priests arranged in two superimposed half-registers bring offerings and incense and pour libations of water. This time, the sitting couple have also been hammered out; they consisted of Rekhmire and his mother Bet. On the third register, this time the couple were daubed with red paint ( view dm-1268, view bg-007, view cd-033).
One is struck in the chapel of the Rekhmire by the often very careful hammering out of all priests wearing leopard skins. These mutilations are the work of the envoys of Akhenaten but there is no direct source that explains to us why. One Interesting point is in the unfinished tombs where the spots upon the skin have not been painted, there has been no destruction (Quack), while on some monuments, solitary skins (not carried by celebrants) have been hammered out. Moreover - and this is the case here with Rekhmire - sometimes a sem-priest is found hammered out when wearing a leopard skin, but left alone when not wearing it. So it would seem that it was the skin and not the officiating person which was targeted. But even so, on the other hand in the tomb of Huya at Amarna one finds a priest wearing the leopard skin shown upon the wall of the niche which holds his statue... it is best to admit that we simply do not know the real reason for such excisions. Although several suggestions have been made as to why this figure was targeted (ranging from his ritual function to the animal skin garment itself), the reason behind its rejection during the Amarna Period remains largely enigmatic.
The Leopard skin and funerary priests
Often found in the decoration of tombs are persons dressed in a leopard skin in the course of performing certain acts of the funeral ritual. Zoologically this mottled skin could belong to either a leopard or a cheetah. The term panther, although often used, does not refer to a particular species but refers to a genus of cats (Panthera); in reality it is synonymous with leopard. Ironically, as I write this we learn the disappearance of the last mountain leopard of Egypt ( Sciences et avenir, RFI). The skins come mostly from Nubia and Punt. Note that there are dummy "skins" made of linen and sometimes embellished with jewels (an example was found in the tomb of Tutankhamun: Howard Carter archives.
The leopard skin is not a mere ornament but a magical instrument closely related to the sphere of the ritual (Rummel, Polz). It encompasses a regenerative power of strength and can be carried by any participant officiating in the rites of re-animation of the deceased (especially by sem- and Iunmutef- priests) but also by the deceased upon whom these rites are performed. It is directly related to Horus in his role as son caring for his father Osiris, but is also associated with Nut, the sky goddess who swallows the heavenly bodies and then gives them out again to the world. The head of the animal above the body is consistently shown from the front, so we can clearly see the power that it concentrates. Where does the myth come from? According to a tradition reported in the Jumilhac Papyrus, Seth, brother and murderer of Osiris, turned into a panther; Anubis has flayed him then donned his skin before entering the divine pavilion to go and embalm Osiris, and carry out the sem-priest function (or setem, for Seth im = Seth entered).
The sem-priest is originally associated with the god Ptah-Sokar of Memphis, as early as the end of the Old Kingdom, and he is involved in various funeral ceremonies - including that of the Opening of the Mouth. The sem-priest enters the sphere of the private funeral cult in the First Intermediate Period and his role will become central, both on the walls of tombs and in the Book of the Dead. Often, but not always, he wears a leopard skin, more rarely he sports the sidelock of childhood.
Iunmutef, "pillar of his mother" is also "support of his father" and wears a leopard skin. Is he a God or priest? "Iunmutef is the divine model of a sem-priest" (Te Welde). He also represents Horus in his role of 'loving son'. He is intrinsically linked to the legitimacy of royal power and officiates, for example, during the sed festival. He has a central role in the maintenance of the cosmic order, Maat. The Iunmutef priest appears in the Middle Kingdom and his importance will increase during the New Kingdom. After the reign of Akhenaten and the rebirth of the Osirian theology, the Iunmutef priest sees that his role in the Opening of the Mouth ritual has become very important. Iunmutef thus becomes a symbol of purity and ritual competence, a model for all priests.
( view dm-1291bis) This occupies the furthest end of the corridor, which makes it difficult to examine because of the darkness that prevails and of the height of the wall, which here exceeds eight meters. It is comprised of two superposed false-doors. The top one, much smaller than the other, is now in the Louvre (No. C74) after JF Champollion had found it lying on the ground when he visited the chapel. Above, a statue niche is carved into the wall; its floor is located 6 meters above the ground. The recess and the second false door are surrounded by a lintel and two inscribed door jambs.
1)- The bottom false door ( pl Davies-CXIII/1, view xx-064)
Carved directly into the rock wall, its inscriptions, in very bad condition, consist of classical invocation offerings and titles Rekhmire had accumulated.
2)- The upper false door (Louvre C74)
This is now in the Louvre Museum, room 24. A removed piece of red granite, it is intact except for the lower right third. On its upright jambs are prayers to Amun of Thebes, Djeseret, Osiris-Sokar, Lord of Ro-Setau, and Osiris, Lord of Abydos. Among the formulae are:
"An invocatory offering, upon which a God lives, and feels the sweet breath of the north wind";
"An invocatory offering of everything that arrives on his altar every day and the calling out of the voice that announces the meal";
"See Re and be among his followers"
"Glory in heaven, Prosperity on earth, Justification in the underworld".
3)- Texts of the wall bordering on the left and right the false door C74
"Bring a lamp... for Rekhmire ... ... as present in the southern and northern shrines... The Eye of Horus comes, the Eye of Horus is clear. The Eye of Horus shines in peace, it shines like Re and the power of Seth is hidden before it. The eye of Horus seizes him and brings a lamp before him, directs its heat against him".
"Go to his Ka, like Osiris, as Horus, as Seth, like Thoth, as Khentyenirty, like . . . ? O Rekhmire, your Ka is placed in front of and behind you! O Rekhmire I have placed your Ka before and behind you; O Rekhmire, I gave you the Eye of Horus with which your face is protected! Its fragrance around you, the scent of the Eye of Horus, O Rekhmire!".
4)- The niche ( view cm-6578)
On either side are Rekhmire and his wife Meryt before a table covered with offerings that Menkheperreseneb, the eldest son of the couple, now erased, has consecrated ( pl Davies-CXV). On the back wall are two vertical lines of text, one mentions the vizier and the other, his wife, thus the statue placed in the niche was a double one.
5)- The frame of the niche ( pl Davies-CXIII/2)
This has two scenes of adoring Osiris as Lord of the Necropolis and Osiris revived (Wennefer), protected by the Western and Eastern goddesses. A temple appears in the centre.
They include prayers, on the left "to Amun-Ra, great and incomparable God"; "Hu, Master of Heliopolis"; "Thoth, the Judge of the two brothers"; "Amun and Mut" and on the right "to Horakhty" ; "to Osiris" ; "to Anubis" ; "to Hathor" that they agree:
"a saity of food ..."
"pure bread, to his satisfaction, every day";
"Glory, prosperity, justification and a beautiful burial in the Western Desert."
"that which happens upon the altars at every festival."
"the Ba in the sky and the mummy in the lower world."
"an offering to the voice."
"daily participation as a blessed being and a daily supply of offerings."
"a passing on of foods that were offered to Amun and Mut who stand before her (Hathor)".