Coffin of Penu

Third Intermediate Period, Dyn. 22, Sheshonq III
825–712 B.C.


Length: 197 cm (77 9/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wood, gesso, pigment

Not On View


The Ancient World


Coffins and sarcophagi

This coffin is inscribed for the priest Penu (PA-ny-ny-iw), among whose titles listed on the piece are “Beloved of the god” and “Opener of the Doors of Heaven.” The face of the coffin is well carved of a separate piece of dark wood that was attached to the coffin lid by pegs. Eyes were inlaid but do not survive. Painted decoration includes a collar/necklace at the neck and strands of flowers and petals across the upper torso. A band in the hair is similarly colored, while the hair is rendered with black lines. Below the collar the body of the figure has a central column with three perpendicular bands that divides the lid into eight rectangular registers. Painted hieroglyphic text in the central column contains an offering inscription for the deceased. The scenes in the registers are arranged in pairs, each pair showing the deceased in different attire and pose with respect to figures of deities. The bottom registers contain Horus falcons with wadjet-eyes, symbols of protection. Brief bands of additional hieroglyphic text above each scene record additional short offering texts for the deities in the associated register.


Likely from Thebes. By 1836: Robert Hay Collection, Linplum, Scotland; 1863: to his son, Robert James Alexander Hay; 1868-1872: Way Collection, Boston (purchased by Samuel A. Way through London dealers Rollin and Feuardent, 27 Haymarket); 1872: given to the MFA by Samuel's son, C. Granville Way. (Accession date: June 28, 1872)
(Numbers reassigned and corrected: September 20, 1995)

Credit Line

Hay Collection—Gift of C. Granville Way