About This Artwork


Coffin and Mummy of Paankhenamun, Third Intermediate Period, Dynasty 22 (about 945–715 BC)

Cartonnage, gold leaf, pigment, and human remains
170.2 x 43.2 x 31.7 cm (67 x 17 x 12 1/2 in.)

W. Moses Willner Fund, 1910.238

Mummification is the ancient Egyptian funerary practice of drying out a corpse for preservation. Anointed with oils and spices and protected with amulets, this linen-wrapped body was placed in a series of nesting coffins; the vividly painted cartonnage was the innermost shell. Across the surface of the mummy case, inscriptions and painted scenes and symbols identify the deceased—Paankhenamun (The One Who Lives for Amun)—and proclaim his wish to live well in the afterlife. Another inscription records that he was the doorkeeper of the temple of Amun. The names and titles on the mummy case suggest that Paankhenamun lived at Thebes. The central scene depicts the presentation of the deceased by the falcon-headed deity Horus to Osiris, the ruler of eternity (shown, as was common, as a mummy). Other divinities help the deceased in his journey to the afterlife. Despite the youthful features of the gilt face, X-rays reveal that Paankhenamun was middle-aged.

— Entry, Essential Guide, 2013, p. 63.

This coffin belonged to a man named Paankhenamun, whose name translates as “He lives for Amun.” Paankhenamun was the doorkeeper of the temple of the god Amun, a position he inherited from his father. X-rays reveal that he was approximately 5’6” tall and died in middle age. Cartonnage cases were a popular form of coffin at the time that Paankhenamun was buried. After mummification, the wrapped body was inserted into the case through the back. The back was then laced up, a footboard was added, and the case was painted. Cartonnage coffins were normally placed inside one or more nested wooden coffins that were also decorated.

—Permanent collection and Google Art label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Periodic exhibition from 1911-1994; Henry Crown Gallery in 1960s - 1970s.

Egyptian Gallery # 9 and 10, circa 1923.

Egyptian Gallery # 10, circa 1935.

Egyptian Gallery # 1, circa 1956.

Art Institute of Chicago, Gallery 101A, “The Classical Collection: Early Accessions,” October 8, 1986-February 27, 1987.

Art Institute of Chicago, Gallery 141, “Grave Goods from Ancient Cultures,” November 9, 1991-May 17, 1992.

Art Institute of Chicago, Ancient Art Galleries, Gallery 154A, April 20, 1994 - February 6, 2012.

Publication History

The Art Institute of Chicago, The Essential Guide (Art Institute of Chicago, 2013), p. 63.

Karen B. Alexander, "From Plaster to Stone: Ancient Art at the Art Institute of Chicago," in Recasting the Past: Collecting and Presenting Antiquities at the Art Institute of Chicago, by Karen Manchester (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2012), p. 26.

Emily Teeter and Janet Johnson, eds., The Life of Meresamun: a Temple Singer in Ancient Egypt, Oriental Institute Museum Publications, no. 29, (The Oriental Institute, 2009), p. 19 (ill.).

Gayle Gibson, “The Lady From Thebes: An Afterword,” Rotunda 38, 2 (Winter 2004/2005), pp. 20, 21 (ill.).

Cleopatra: A Multi-Media Guide to the Ancient World, The Art Institute of Chicago, 1997.

Emily Teeter, "Egyptian Art," in The Essential Guide: Art Institute of Chicago, Museum Studies: Ancient Art at The Art Institute of Chicago, vol. 20, no. 1 (1994), pp. 22-25 (ill.), no. 7, backcover (ill).

Karen Alexander, "The New Galleries of Ancient Art at the Art Institute of Chicago," Minerva (May/June, 1994), vol. 5, no. 3, p. 30 (ill.).

Thomas George Allen, A Handbook of The Egyptian Collection (Art Institute of Chicago/University of Chicago Press, 1923), pp. 7, 12, 13 (ill.), 16, 19n., 69, 124.

Art Institute of Chicago, Thirty-second Annual Report: June 1, 1910–June 1, 1911 (Art Institute of Chicago, 1911), pp. 19, 62.

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