This passage could be closed off from the first chamber by the door in the west wall of the first chamber, thus making it part of the open courtyard. It is just over 2m in height, 0.6m wide and just less than 1m long. Both side walls are decorated almost identically, with Niankhkhnum an the south wall and Khnumhotep on the north. Today both walls are edged at the sides and the top by blank borders, originally these would have been painted with the usual coloured ladder band.
The wall is divided into two registers, which are probably intended to be read as one scene. An uncertainty arises as to whether the top one or the bottom one should come first, there are good reasons for either, but the bias is to reading the bottom register first.
The bottom register shows the retinue preceding Niankhkhnum on his
"Journey to the beautiful West". Leading it are three females representing the domains of the deceased. This an abridged version, a fuller version with 30 females will be encountered on the east wall of the antechamber in the rock-cut portion of the tomb. They each carry produce from their respective domains. Behind them are three "treasurers", who carry either objects relating to the journey or to the domains.
The top register (like the north wall) is decorated with quite an unusual scene, as only one other example is known. Niankhkhnum kneels in a modestly sized litter, not carried by servants but carried by two harnessed donkeys. In his hand he holds his staff of office. He is accompanied by: in front of the donkey, a handler feeding them a tuft of grass; immediately behind the donkey, a drover carrying a short stick; and finally an official, who holds the deceased's sandals in his hand. All three are named as "funerary priests".
At the top of the register is an inscription in eight vertical lines, with the titles and the name of the deceased as well as the purpose of his trip, the
"Journey to the beautiful West".
This wall is almost identical to the south wall, all participants face towards the west, as the title of the scene also states. This time it represents the journey of Khnumhotep, the only major difference being the items carried by the three female of the domains. The titles above the deceased are the same as those found for Niankhkhnum, the whole text being :
"The overseer of the manicurists of the palace, confidant of the king, honoured by the king, the one honoured by the great god, Khnumhotep. Journey to the beautiful West."
The courtyard was created with the external stone structure, directly in front of the entrance vestibule to the rock-cut section of the complex. It was left open to the air but today it is covered by strong metal grating. The area is almost a true rectangle, its height being about 4.2m, the north and west walls being slightly longer than those opposite, having the following wall lengths : north: 3.60m, south: 3.45m, east: 6.75 and west: 6.90. The east wall is punctuated in the middle by the entry from the first chamber.
The gully, serving as drainage for the courtyard and which pierces the north wall, can only be seen inside the courtyard today. The difference in height between the rock-cut tomb and the courtyard was probably originally bridged by a ramp, leading to the patio frontage of its vestibule entrance, now appearing as a set of three steps.
The walls of the courtyard are now reconstructed from modern stonework. Since no decorated blocks were found which could be assigned to the courtyard it has to be assumed that the walls were not embellished with relief or artwork. Decoration begins again with the inner walls of the second vestibule.
The vestibule opens off to the south of the open courtyard and has the following internal dimensions: 3.65m high, 2.25m wide and 1.35m deep. Its entrance takes up almost the entire width of the vestibule, reduced only by two half-pillars 3 metres in height. On top of these rests an architrave, the whole producing a 1.9m wide entrance. Only the insides of the pillars, the sides facing each other, are decorated, the sides facing into the courtyard, including that of the architrave, remained undecorated.
The walls of the inside are fully decorated, with the exception of the metre high dado at the bottom. Again, all of these wall were bordered by the coloured ladder band and the upper band topped with the geometric frieze, all of which survives to a degree, particularly in the case of the south wall. The ceiling was created from three large blocks, the one at the east side is still painted a deep bright red. , and show the ceiling colour and the top ladder band and geometric frieze of the south wall.
The south wall is punctuated by the entrance of the passageway into the rock-cut chambers of the mastaba/tomb.
In front of the entrance to the following chambers and taking up almost the entire floor of the vestibule, lies the well shaft of the sloping tunnel leading to the actual burial chamber complex. This is currently closed off to the public.
The decoration is in finely modelled sunken relief and was perhaps originally painted. The design on both is almost identical and extends the full height (see the east side pillar: and ). Situated only few centimetres above the floor level, the two deceased stand as if leaving the tomb, Niankhkhnum on the western pillar, Khnumhotep on the east. The inscription, in a single column down the centre, is the same on both sides :
"The overseer of the manicurists of the palace, honoured by the king", followed by the name of the appropriate deceased.
This is actually the inside-facing surface of the architrave, but can be thought of as the north wall of the second vestibule.
The image field is divided into three sections, two rectangular fields at the sides, each with an image of the deceased standing and inspecting the scenes of the centre section, with Niankhkhnum left and Khnumhotep right. In the wide central area several herdsmen can be seen on two registers, which in each case brings fattened oxen. on the lowest of the two registers there is also a calf, referred to in the text above it as
"upon the finger" (meaning "fed by hand"), thus it is no longer dependant upon its mother for milk and therefore old enough for slaughter.
The image field the east wall is subdivided into two sections of unequal size, both of which occupy the entire wall width. The uppermost section contains the main image of the wall and shows a very tall figure of Khnumhotep looking left, viewing wild game. In front of him the animals are shown in a vertical columns of sub-registers. The lower image section could be regarded as a further sub-register to this main image and shows the presentation of more wild animals. Presumably, because in this bottom register the animals are actually being presented to the deceased by four funerary priests, this register precedes the upper sub-registers in front of the main image and should be read first. The centre of the wall has suffered much damage, but the upper and lower section have survived reasonably intact,
Khnumhotep is accompanied by
"His wife, whom he loves, the king's administrator, the priestess of Hathor, the Mistress of the Sycamore, the priestess of Neith, Khenut" ().
Above the deceased is a hieroglyphic text in 8 vertical columns, giving the title of the scene, his especially extensively presented title and his name :
"Viewing the wild game. The priest of Re in the sun temple of Niuserre, the wab-priest of the mortuary temple of Niuserre, the overseer of the manicurists of the palace, the privy councillor of his god, one whom his lord loves, honoured by the king, the one honoured by the great god, the king's administrator, Khnumhotep."
All of the animals come from the desert, including those of the bottom register, and nearly all are referred to as "young" and include various types of antelopes and gazelles (plus a young female hyena, in sub-register 5). The unaccompanied ones opposite the deceased are all tethered to the ground.
In the lower register ( and ), three of the animals are very young, two are actually being carried by the priests and which appear at the right-hand end of ().
Although this wall shows numerous damages and gaps, it is in a better condition than the opposite east wall. The arrangement and content of its imagery corresponds to that of the east wall, and possesses a somewhat greater quality. This time it concerns the viewing of the wild animals by Niankhkhnum and his wife, Khentikawes. The hieroglyphic texts associated with them provides the same titles as given to Khnumhotep on the wall opposite, albeit in a slightly different order. His wife () only holds the titles :
"the king's administrator, the priestess of Hathor".
Again, in seven narrow sub-registers, to the right of Niankhkhnum and Khentikawes, is the depiction of the wild game only this time they are not fastened to the ground (, and ). The lower register has, again, four funerary priests, two larger (but "young") animals ( and ), but this time only one very small gazelle, carried by the priest at the end of the parade (bottom left of ).
This wall has at its centre the entrance passageway to the chambers of rock-cut portion of the mastaba/tomb. The entrance (width: 0.6m, height: 2.2m and 0.9m deep) subdivides the wall into three image fields, a horizontal rectangular field over the entrance and two tall rectangular fields at either side of the entrance.
The top horizontal field () over the entrance shows two sections of different heights, an uppermost section with the representation the two seated deceased in front of separate tables and one lower section, which forms an architrave over the entrance and contains an offering prayer in the two long rows of hieroglyphic text.
The upper scene is, like the south wall of the first vestibule, shown as a double offering scene with Khnumhotep on the left and Niankhkhnum on the right. Between them offerings are displayed in two narrow sub-registers under which are portrayed four priests, two serving each of the deceased. An unusual feature of the scene is the fact that the two deceased are seated in chairs with solid sides (arm rests) and high backs.
A single line of text over each of the deceased (under the ladder band) and extending the width of the wall, gives the usual titles and their names.
The double text band of the architrave was produced in sunken relief of a deep red background, of which the east portion has faded. The lowest of the two rows again contains the titles and names of the deceased, whilst the upper one contains the offering prayer :
"The king gives an offering, an offering given (namely) to Anubis, in front of his divine shrine. That they may be buried in the necropolis, after they have become very beautifully old (as) two lords honoured by the great god.".
The two side fields, either side of the entrance to the passageway, contain the standing figures of the two deceased accompanied by their "eldest" sons. Khnumhotep is on the left () opposite Niankhkhnum () on the right. They both are adorned with a wig and a ceremonial beard, they wear a broad necklace and the formal pleated kilt over which hangs (from the shoulder) a panther fur. They both hold the staff of office in one hand a sceptre in the other. In front of them both, at the edge of the entrance, is a vertical column of text :
"The priest of Re in the sun temple of Niuserre, the overseer of the manicurists of the palace, the confidant of the king and privy councillor", followed by the appropriate name.
At a much smaller scale and standing in front the father, is the appropriate son, holding the staff of office held by the father. On the left wall is
"His eldest son, the judge and scribe, honoured by his father, Schepsesptah", naked and wearing the lock of youth, but even so he holds the titles of "judge and scribe". On the right wall is
"His eldest son, the judge and scribe, honoured by his father, Hem-re", wearing an official kilt and a normal hairstyle. He is obviously portrayed to be much older than Khnumhotep's son; another indication, perhaps, that Niankhkhnum was the older of the two deceased.
This passageway is the beginning of the rock-cut portion of the mastaba/tomb. Its height of just over 2 metres reflects the height of the following chambers, which is in great contrast to what has gone before. Its width (about 0.6m) is similar to that of the preceding passageways. The composite image (to the left) gives a false impression of the entrance being wider than it really is (see for reality), and was intended only to show the side walls in their setting.
Spanning the entrance, immediately before the doorway to the antechamber, is a broad red rounded beam, representing a rolled up mat. Unlike the one found in the entrance to the first chamber from the first vestibule, this only contains the inscribed names of the two deceased in a single horizontal line, both names starting at the centre.
The rounded beam reduces the length of the top register of both side walls.
The entrance walls are faced with limestone, and their image fields are just over 1 metre in height. They are both subdivided into four registers and bordered at top and sides by the colour ladder with a much narrower geometrical frieze at the top. The undecorated dado area has its usual height of about 1 metre.
The four registers of this wall are approximately the same height and shows images of the offering service for the two deceased. The three upper registers portray a parade of funerary priests, each carrying one or more items of food ( and ). The lowest register shows the presentation of the offering bulls ().
The content of the three upper registers is described by the vertical inscription in front of (the edge nearest to the antechamber) registers 2 and 3 :
"Bringing the best from the buffet-table, the large breads and the various pieces of meat, for the invocatory offering." Due to the reduced width of the top register, only four funerary priests are shown, whilst the registers below each have six. All of the priests are named.
In the lower register two herdsman bring two oxen of different sizes, the one at the rear has an almond-shaped pendant hanging from its neck. The title of the activity is inscribed over the two bulls :
"Bringing the young oxen for the morning meal". Like elsewhere in this monument, the quality and detail of the workmanship is outstanding () and has survived well the past four thousand years.
This wall is almost a mirror image of the east wall. Again, only four funerary priests are placed on the upper register with twelve in total on the two registers below. The priests are again named, but are different to those opposite (). These registers are given the same title as used on the east wall.
The lowest register () again shows two bulls of different size under the control of two herdsmen. This time both oxen have pendants hanging from their necks, the most elaborate being on the bull in front. The inscription states :
"Bringing the young oxen for the evening meal".
Note the alignment of the content of the two walls, the morning meal is on the east wall, with the rising sun, and the evening meal is on the west wall, with the setting sun.