I learned from the spring issue of the museum mag that the KC Nelson-Akins Museum of Art is rolling out a major new acquisition as they say in museum-speak. It is the funerary assemblage of Meret-it-es, a woman who lived in middle Egypt 2,300 years ago.
If the promotion is any indication, the museum people are really, really excited about this. For three years, one of the curators has been hot on the trail of authentic egyptian coffins and evidently hit the mother lode with this one.
The display includes an outer coffin, 8 egyptian feet long, a glorious inner coffin, a gilded cartonnage (mummy mask ) a couple of deity statuettes — and 305 (yup, count ’em) statuettes known as Ushebtis. They look kinda like the Oscars but are green instead of gold and have their heads covered.
Ushebti (yoo-sheb-tee) were worker bees, the name means responder in egyptian; their job was to come to life and perform any labor that might be requested of the deceased in the hereafter.
Yeah, that Meretites, oops I mean Meret-it-es, must have been one lazy girl.
But what a waste. I mean — who needs Ushebti in the sweet bye and bye? So, she’s lying there in the midst of a deep sleep and someone yells, “Hey Mere, come over here and help haul up this harp.”
Wouldn’t you think she would rouse herself a little and retort, ” No! I’m done with schlepping.”
“Are you kidding me? It’s part of the gig, get over here!”
More than a little piqued, I could see our girl raising herself on her forearms and narrowing her eyes. ” Did you not hear what I said! I’m not doing anything and what’s more, you can’t make me. Go ahead, whatta gonna do, Killllll me!?”
That’s probably when a flock of Ushebti rushes over. And then it stops raining somewhere on earth.