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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Mommy and the 'MUMMY"


 24th nov 2012




I was going thru the newspapers this morning. Usually that early, in the morning , I do not go beyond the Mumbai Mirror. but somehow I found myself turning the pages of the main newspaper. I found myself staring at a news item about the new exhibit at the museum. "Presented in collaboration with the British Museum, the exhibition is centered around Nesperennub's mummy, its cartonnage case and an array of funerary objects and figurines. Nesperennub, a priest at The Karnak Temple Complex, lived and died in Egypt 2,800 years ago but he is one of the resident rockstar mummies at the British Museum." There was to be a 3 D film too about the same. Interest was piqued. The daughter seemed keen too. There were the hazaar "things to do" staring at me . Swept through  most of them like a possessed witch on a broom. and at 3.00 pm we were on our way to Chhatrapati Shivaji Vastu Sangrahalaya !

Reached the place around 4.00 pm. As expected the news item had attracted a lot of enthusiasts. The security guards were herding the crowds to the auditorium for the 30 min 3D film. We thought we would see the exhibit first and then watch the film.

SPOILER ALERT :- aagey ka description might be too detailed and might put off some, who might want to go and see and  experience for themselves rather than read details here. :-) You know how fond I am of the Keyboard.

The exhibition is on the 1st floor and is spread over 3 halls. On display are stones /tablets with Hieroglyphs. statuettes, other objects and miniature replicas.Since the exhibition was about the mummy, the items on display were objects used during the rites and rituals associated with death . On the walls, inscribed in wood is concise but relevant information about the beliefs of the ancient Egyptians as regards death and life after death. About their gods, and their depiction. How the various gods were thought of as having various powers and their representation accordingly. Hence so many of their idols had some animal or bird features - the strength of a lion, wings... etc

The second hall was more of a photo studio. There was a backdrop of the river Nile with villages in the background and a cutout of a boat in the foreground. On a table nearby were an assortment of head gear worn by the ancient egyptians. One could wear these and get himself photographed behind the boat , to look as if he was sailing on the blue blue Nile. I had seen this in the newspaper and grinned when I saw the settting. The daughter, as expected shook her index finger and said, No No , Not ME.

We moved to the next hall. This one was huge and the most interesting one. There was this huge wooden casket. painted. with symbols . with Hieroglyphs. This could hold the dead. 

On one side was painted a pair of eyes and a doorway. This was to enable the body inside to "look" outside (at the sun?) .  The inside of the casket had religious text written and depicted . On the base of the casket were directions and maps of pathways and waterways too, which would enable the body/soul inside to find its way out. Find its way back. The casket was so ancient and yet the writings and paint was so clear, clean . The casket was of thick heavy wood. It is such a reaal and a  tangible link to the past of so many thousands of years ago. This fascinated me so much... But there were more thrilling exhibits ahead.

The ancient Egyptians had their unique beliefs about death and the  life after. This hall and the other exhibits here talked about the process of embalming.It  unsettled me a bit. 


Different types of oils were rubbed on the body. 7 of them. On display were lengths of fabric that were used for mummification. To preserve the body .Some organs which culd decay or putrefy were removed. The brain, the digestive organs , the lungs..... These werent discarded. There were urns displayed which held these. Before the urns came into use , they would wrap these organs and store them in a closet along with the body. and in times before this practise, they would place the wrapped bundle between the deceased's legs and then mummify him. The organs in the body were removed by making an incision in the abdomen and the incision was covered with a small metal plate .The plate was carved with the eye of their god. to whom the responsibility of the deceased was now entrusted. More charms, amulets were placed and the body was then  swathed in fabric and layers of resin. much like the process of plastering.This process took about 40 days they say. Once the body was mummyfied they would adorn it with Hieroglyphs and religious symbols.

The mummy and wooden coffin of the Egyption priest Nesperrenub in its cartonnage case and an array of funerary objects is also on display .

Also there is another mummy , that of an adult and out of the cartonnage case. This one is almost eerie.  A tall well built figure swathed in fabric frm head to toe lying in the glass display case.

Then there is one more mummy - that of a young girl.

The mummy of the Egyptian priest Nesperennub - this is the one they talk abt in the 3D movie. Unwrapping the muumy almost always destroys it they say. So they have CT scanned it and examined it. This is a very very interesting film and the 3D effects are phenomenal. The way they have used this 3D technology to bring to us the facts is just...... well Ihave no words. OK , let me try. As they examine each part , from the skull to the entire body, the 3 D effects bring those so close to you.you almost feel u are the one holding it and examining it closely. they have tried to rebuild the face of that priest from the skull and attempted to recreate his life and death

It is an experience, an amazing one. The information on the boards on the walls and the descriptions of each exhibit in each glass cabinet is  educative and  informatiive.

One can't help going back in time...........I did.  Proof attached
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