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Coffin of Pedi-Osiris
305 BC–AD 30
Carved and painted wood; gold

86 1/8 x 26 x 18 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Museum purchase with funds provided by the Alice Pratt Brown Museum Fund


Ancient Egyptians believed in life after death. This coffin was made for Pedi-Osiris, a priest of the god Osiris, Lord of the Underworld. Standing more than seven feet tall, the coffin once held the priest's mummified body, which had been elaborately prepared for the afterlife, wrapped in multiple layers of linen cloth.

Pedi-Osiris appears with a gold face, exotic black-lined eyes, and a fake beard—a symbol of high rank. He wears a wig painted the rich blue of lapis lazuli; numerous painted necklaces; and red clothing covered with a net of painted beads. The coffin also features likenesses of ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses, who were included to protect the deceased and to help him overcome obstacles in the dangerous journey to the next world.