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Ancient Egyptian offering formula

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The Ancient Egyptian offering formula, generally referred to as the ḥtp-dỉ-nsw formula by Egyptologists, was written in ancient Egypt as an offering for the deceased. The offering formula was believed to allow the deceased to partake in offerings presented to the major deities in the name of the king, or in offerings presented directly to the deceased by family members.[1] All ancient Egyptian offering formulas share the same basic structure, but there is a great deal of variety in which deities and offerings are mentioned, and which epithets and titles are used. Below is an example of a typical offering formula:

M23t
R4
X8Q1D4nbR11wO49
t
Z1nTraAnbU23bN26
O49
D37
f
O3F1
H1
V6S27x
t
nb
t
nfr
t
wab
t
S34
t
nTrim
n
D28
n
iF39
x
iiF12sr
t
z
n
A1Aa11
P8
ḥtp dỉ nsw wsỉr nb ḏdw, nṯr ˁȝ, nb ȝbḏw
dỉ=f prt-ḫrw t ḥnqt, kȝw ȝpdw, šs mnḥt ḫt nbt nfrt wˁbt ˁnḫt nṯr ỉm
n kȝ n ỉmȝḫy s-n-wsrt, mȝˁ-ḫrw
"An offering given by the king (to) Osiris, the lord of Busiris, the great god, the lord of Abydos."
"That he may give a voice-offering of bread, beer, oxen, birds, alabaster, clothing, and every good and pure thing upon which a god lives."
"For the ka of the revered Senwosret, True of Voice."

The offering formula is usually found carved or painted onto funerary stelae, false doors, coffins, and sometimes other funerary objects. Each person would, of course, have their own name and titles put into the formula. The offering formula was not a royal prerogative like some of the other religious texts such as the Litany of Re, and was used by anyone who could afford to have one made.[1]

Structure of the offering formulaEdit

The offering formula always begins with the phrase:

M23t
R4
X8
ḥtp dỉ nsw

This phrase comes from Old Egyptian, and probably means "an offering given by the king." he king was seen as an intermediary between the people of Egypt and the gods, therefore the offering was made through him.[1]

Next the formula names a god of the dead and several of his epithets, usually Osiris, Anubis, or (rarely) Geb or another deity. The following phrase is a typical invocation of Osiris:

Q1D4nbR11wO49
t
Z1nTraAnbU23bN26
O49
wsỉr nb ḏdw, nṯr ˁȝ, nb ȝbḏw

which means "Osiris, the lord of Busiris, the great god, the lord of Abydos." There was apparently no set rule about what epithets were used, however "Lord of Busiris," "Great God," and "Lord of Abydos" were very common. Also frequent were:

nbH6nbG21HHN5
nb ỉmnt nb nḥḥ

meaning "Lord of the West, Lord of Eternity"
Anubis is seen less frequently than Osiris, and usually read,

E15
R4
W17tnTrO21D1N26
f
ỉnpw, ḫnty sḥ nṯr tpy ḏw=f

meaning "Anubis, he who is in front of his divine booth, he who is on his mountain."

After the list of deities and their titles, the formula proceeds with a list of the ḫrt-prw, or "invocation offerings." The list is always preceded by the phrase:

D37
f
O3
    or    
X8s
n
O3
dỉ=f prt-ḫrw        or      dỉ=sn prt-ḫrw

which means "He (or they, in the second example) give(s) invocation offerings." After this phrase, the list of offerings follows; for example:

D37
f
O3F1
H1
V6S27x
t
nb
t
nfr
t
wab
t
S34
t
nTrim
dỉ=f prt-ḫrw t ḥnqt, kȝw ȝpdw, šs mnḥt ḫt nbt nfrt wˁbt ˁnḫt nṯr ỉm

meaning "He gives invocation offerings of bread, beer, oxen, birds, alabaster, clothing, and every good and pure thing upon which a god lives." Sometimes the text at the end of the list is replaced with the phrase:

nb
t
nfr
t
wab
t
D37
t
D37
p t
N1
T14G1N16
N21 Z1
W25n
n
t
V28D36
p
N36
S34
t
nTrim
nbt nfrt wˁbt ddt pt qmȝ(t) tȝ ỉnnt ḥˁp(ỉ) ˁnḫt nṯr ỉm

Meaning "Every good and pure thing that the sky gives, the earth creates, the inundation brings, on which the god lives."[2]

The last part of the offering formula lists the name and titles of the recipient of the invocation offerings. For example:

n
D28
n
iF39
x
iiF12sr
t
z
n
A1Aa11
P8
n kȝ n ỉmȝḫy s-n-wsrt, mȝˁ-ḫrw

which means "for the ka of the revered Senwosret, True of Voice."

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Collier M (1998). How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs. London, England: University of California Press. pp. 35–39. 
  2. Allen JP (2000). Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 358. 

External linksEdit

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