Index Previous Next
THE present work is the outcome of two lectures on the Books of the Tuat, i.e., the Egyptian Underworld, or "Other World," which I had the honour to deliver at the Royal Institution in the spring of 1904, and it has been prepared at the suggestion of many who wished to continue their inquiries into the beliefs of the Egyptians concerning the abode of the departed, and the state of the blessed and the damned.
The object of all the Books of the Other World was to provide the dead with a "Guide" or "Handbook," which contained a description of the regions through which their souls would have to pass on their way to the kingdom of Osiris, or to that portion of the sky where the sun rose, and which would supply them with the words of power and magical names necessary for making an unimpeded journey from this world to the abode of the blessed. For a period of two thousand years in the history of Egypt, the Books of the Other World consisted of texts only, but about B.C. 2500
funeral artists began to represent pictorially the chief features of the "Field of Peace," or "Islands of the Blessed," and before the close of the XIXth Dynasty, about 1300 years later, all the principal books relating to the Tuat were profusely illustrated. In the copies of them which were painted on the walls of royal tombs, each division of the Tuat was clearly drawn and described, and each gate, with all its guardians, was carefully depicted. Both the living and the dead could learn from them, not only the names, but also the forms, of every god, spirit, soul, shade, demon, and monster which they were likely to meet on their way, and the copious texts which were given side by side with the pictures enabled the traveller through the Tuat--always, of course, provided that he had learned them--to participate in the benefits which were decreed by the Sun-god for the beings of each section of it.
In primitive times each great city of Egypt possessed its own Other World, and, no doubt, the priests of each city provided the worshippers of their gods with suitable "guides" to the abode of its dead. In the beginning of the Dynastic Period, however, we find that the cult of Osiris was extremely popular, and therefore it was only natural that great numbers of people in all parts of Egypt should hope and believe that their souls after death would go to the kingdom in the Other World over which he reigned. The beliefs connected with the cult of Osiris developed naturally
out of the beliefs of the Predynastic Egyptians, who, we have every reason to think, dealt largely in magic both "Black" and "White." Many of the superstitions, and most of the fantastic and half-savage ideas about the gods and supernatural powers enshrined in the great collection of religious texts called PER-EM-HRU, were inherited by the Dynastic Egyptians from some of the oldest dwellers in the Nile Valley. Those who died in the faith of Osiris believed in the efficacy of the Book PER-EM-HRU, and were content to employ it as a "Guide" to a heaven which was full of material delights; the number of those who were "followers" of Osiris was very large under every dynasty in Egypt. On the other hand, from the IVth Dynasty onwards there was a very large class who had no belief in a purely material heaven, and this being so, it is not surprising that Books of the Other World containing the expression of their views should be composed.
The principal Books of the Underworld in vogue under the XVIIIth and XIXth Dynasties were:--1. PER-EM-HRU, or, "[The Book] of the Coming Forth by Day." 2. SHAT ENT AM TUAT, or, "The Book of that which is in the Tuat." 3. The composition to which the name "Book of Gates" has been given. Now the first of these, which is commonly known as the "Theban Recension of the Book of the Dead," has supplied us with much valuable information about the beliefs which flourished in connection with an early form of the ancient cult of Osiris in the Delta, and
with the later form of his worship, after he had absorbed the position and attributes of Khenti-Amenti, an old local deity of Abydos. The two other Books, however, are as important, each in its own way, as the "Book of the Dead," for they throw considerable light on the development of the material and spiritual elements in the religion of Egypt, and commemorate the belief in the existence of numbers of primitive gods, who are unknown outside these Books. The "Book Am-Tuat," in the form in which we know it, was drawn up by the priests of the confraternity of Amen-Ra at Thebes, with the express object of demonstrating that their god was the overlord of all the gods, and the supreme power in "Pet Ta Tuat," or, as we should say, "Heaven, Earth, and Hell." The Tuat, or Other World, which they imagined included the Tuat of every great district of Egypt, viz., the Tuat of Khenti-Amenti at Abydos, the Tuat of Seker of Memphis, the Tuat of Osiris of Mendes, and the Tuat of Temu-Kheper-Ra of Heliopolis.
In the BOOK AM-TUAT the god Amen-Ra was made to pass through all these Tuats as their overlord and god, and his priests taught that all the gods of the dead, including Osiris, lived through his words, and that such refreshing as the beings of the Tuat enjoyed each day was due to his grace and light during his passage through their regions and Circles. Moreover, according to the dogmas of the priests of Amen-Ra, only those who were fortunate enough to secure a place
in the divine bark of the god could hope to traverse the Tuat unharmed, and only those who were his elect had the certainty of being re-born daily, with a new supply of strength and life, and of becoming of like nature and substance with him.
In the BOOK OF GATES the dogmas and doctrines of Osiris are far more prominent, and the state of the beatified closely resembles that described in the "Book of the Dead." In primitive times in Egypt men thought that they would obtain admission into the kingdom of Hetep by learning and remembering the secret name of this god and certain magical formulae, and by pronouncing them in the correct way at the proper time. The need for a consciousness of sin, and repentance, and a life of good works, were not then held to be indispensable for admission into the abode of the beatified. From the "Book of Gates," however, we learn that in the later Dynastic Period a belief was prevalent that those who worshipped the "great god" on earth, and made all the duly-appointed offerings, and turned not aside to "miserable little gods," and lived according to maat, i.e., uprightness and integrity, would receive a good reward because they had done these things. The texts in these Books state that the beatified live for ever in the kingdom of Osiris, and feed daily upon the heavenly wheat of righteousness that springs from the body of Osiris, which is eternal; he is righteousness itself, and they are righteous, and they live by eating the body of their god daily. On the other hand, the
wicked, i.e., those who did not believe in the great god or make offerings, are hacked to pieces by the divine messengers of wrath, and their bodies, souls, and spirits are consumed by fire once and for all.
The Egyptians had no belief in a purgatory. The fires of the Other World were, it is true, occupied daily in burning up the damned and the opponents of the Sun-god, but each day brought its own supply of bodies, souls, spirits, demons, etc., for annihilation. In all the Books of the Other World we find pits of fire, abysses of darkness, murderous knives, streams of boiling water, foul stenches, fiery serpents, hideous animal-headed monsters and creatures, and cruel, death-dealing beings of various shapes, etc., similar to those with which we are familiar in early Christian and mediæval literature, and it is tolerably certain that modern nations are indebted to Egypt for many of their conceptions of hell.
In the present work the object has been to give the reader the complete hieroglyphic texts of the BOOK A-M-TUAT and the BOOK OF GATES, with reproductions of all their illustrations in black and white, and English translations and descriptions. The illustrations of the former work have been specially traced from the plates of the excellent edition of the tomb of Seti I. published by MM. G. Lefébure, U. Bouriant, V. Loret, and E. Naville, in the second volume of the Mémoires de la Mission Archéologique Française au Caire, Paris, 1886. The illustrations of the BOOK OF GATES have
been traced from Bonomi's Sarcophagus of Oimenepthah I., London, 1864, but for certain scenes I was permitted by the late Mr. G. Birch, Keeper of Sir John Soane's Museum, to compare the tracings with the scenes on the sarcophagi-is itself. A copy of the scene on the portion of the cover, which I acquired for the Trustees of the British Museum a few years ago, has also been included.
The plan followed has been to devote a chapter to each Division of the Tuat, and to give the hieroglyphic texts, with short descriptions of the various gods, &c., and translations, as near to the scenes to which they refer as possible. With a view of making the edition as complete as possible, I have added a transcript of the "Summary" of the BOOK AM-TUAT from Dr. Pleyte's facsimile of the Leyden Papyrus, and a translation for the convenience of the reader who may wish to compare the Divisions of Am-Tuat with those of the BOOK OF GATES. The former have been printed in one volume, and the latter in another; the full index given at the end of the introductory volume will, it is hoped, make reference and comparison easy. All general descriptions, and such explanations of the scenes as are possible in the present state of our knowledge have been given in a series of chapters in this volume, together with an account of the origin and development of "guides" to the Other World, and a rendering of a recently published and very important text from a coffin at Cairo. This text proves that the
[paragraph continues] Egyptians believed in the reconstitution of family life in the Other World, and thought that every man, and woman, and child would possess such a measure of individuality that they would know their relatives and friends in the Other World, and would be known by them (see within, Chapter III).
The first translation of the BOOK AM-TUAT was published by Prof. G. Maspero in the Revue des Religions, 1888, tom. xvii., pp. 251-310; tom. xviii., pp. 1-67. This has been reprinted, with certain modifications and additions, in his Bibliothèque Égyptologique, tom. ii., pp. 1-181, Paris, 1893. The text chosen by him for elucidation was that published by M. G. Lefébure in his edition of the tomb of Seti I., and this he supplemented with extracts from other versions of the work given on sarcophagi, papyri, etc. The "Summary," or Short Form of AM-TUAT, was first published in a complete form, with variant readings, by M. G. Jéquier (see his Le Livre de ce qu'il y a dans l'Hades, Paris, 1894). In Prof. Maspero's work mentioned above he also discussed and analysed the earlier sections of the BOOK OF GATES, of which M. E. Lefébure published a translation of the texts, as found on the sarcophagus of Seti I., in the Records of the Past, vol. x., pp. 79-134, London, 1878, and vol. xii., pp. 1-35, London, 1881. In preparing the present edition of the two great Books of the Other World I have availed myself of these works, and also of the valuable editions of the texts from the royal tombs at Thebes,
which M. E. Lefébure has published in the first and second fasciculi of the third volume of the Mémoires de la Mission Archéologique Française au Caire, Paris, 1889.
E. A. WALLIS BUDGE.