Collection Online
Canopic chest

Canopic chest
Ptolemaic Period 332 BCE-30 BCE

wood, gesso, pigment
(a-c) 85.5 × 28.3 × 27.9 cm (overall)
Place/s of Execution
Accession Number
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 1939
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
Gallery location
The Ancient World
Level 2, NGV International
Physical description
Box - a tall, roughly rectangular box in the shape of a naos or shrine, with tapering sides. Each side is constructed from two rectangular pieces of wood, dowelled together and secured to the base by a series of pegs. The box is covered in a layer of gesso and painted. The decoration on two of the opposing sides is identical. Each panel is divided into three registers. The two lower registers depict two alternating 'djed' pillars and 'ankh' signs. The upper register is divided in half and each panel depicts one of the four sons of Horus, holding a bolt of cloth/linen, with a single column of text in front of the god. Each register is divided by a band of feather designs in alternating groups of four red ones and three blue ones. Each band is also framed by a thin band of solid brown. On one side however, both bands are missing the red feather designs and the lower band also lacks the brown framing bands. The other two sides of the box are completely different. One side depicts a large 'djed' pillar, surmounted by the rear view of a falcon with its wings half out-stretched and each wing holding the feather of 'ma'at'. The falcon stands upon two 'shen' symbols (symbols of eternity) and bears a solar disk with two ureii on its head. The fourth side of the box is divided into three registers. The lowest register bears a single column of text down the centre and is surrounded by a chequer board design in blue, red and white. The middle register depicts the deceased twice, kneeling with his arms raised in adoration on either side of the gods Osiris and Ptah (Sokar also?) in the centre. There is an identical single column of text in each top corner. The upper register contains seven columns of text. The two upper registers are divided by a band of black dots on a brown background and the two lower registers by a band of feather designs in alternating groups of five red and four black ones. A frieze of 'hekeru' signs runs around the top of the box and the base is surrounded by a frieze of panelled 'serekh' pattern. The colour scheme consists of brown, black, red, blue and white. Lid - a single piece of wood with the figure of a seated falcon wearing the double feather crown. The crown is dowelled into the top of the head. The falcon represents the god Sokar. The lid is covered in a layer of gesso and painted and both the falcon and its crown are elaborately decorated in blue, red, green, black and beige/cream.