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Pyramid Texts The Pyramid Texts are hieroglyphic inscriptions that are cut upon the walls of the chambers and corridors of five Old Kingdom Pyramids at Saqqara from the 5th and 6th Dynasties Built for Unas, Teti 1, Pepi 1, Merenre 1, and Pepi 2
- These texts represent the oldest religious literature known,
- The main theme in the Pyramid Texts is the Pharaoh glorious resurrection and ascension to the Afterworld

See also: Comparison between Coffin Texts and Pyramid Texts

The following extracts illustrate the general contents of the Pyramid Texts:
Written by Wallis Budge in his Book: Egyptian Ideas of the Future Life - (Public domain)

  1. The Book of Opening the Mouth

    Under the earliest dynasties this ceremony was performed on a statue of the Pharaoh. Water was sprinkled before it, and incense was burnt, and the statue was anointed with seven kinds of unguents, and its eyes smeared with eye paint. After the statue had been washed and dressed a meal of sepulchral offerings was set before it. The essential ceremony consisted in applying to the lips of the statue a curiously shaped instrument called the PESH KEF, with which the bandages that covered the mouth of the dead Pharaoh in his tomb were supposed to be cut and the mouth set free to open. In later times the Liturgy of Opening the Mouth was greatly enlarged and was called the Book of Opening the Mouth. The ceremonies were performed by the Kher-heb priest, the son of the deceased, and the priests and ministrants called Sameref, Sem, Smer, Am-as, Am-khent, and the assistants called Mesentiu. First of all incense was burnt, and the priest said, "you are pure," four times. Water was then sprinkled over the statue and the priest said, "you are pure. you are pure. your purifications are the purifications of Horus, and the purifications of Horus are your purifications." This formula was repeated three times, once with the name of Seth, once with the name of Thoth, and once with the name of Sep. The priest then said, "you have received your head, and your bones have been brought to you before Keb." During the performance of the next five ceremonies, in which incense of various kinds was offered, the priest said: "you are pure (four times). That which is in the two eyes of Horus has been presented to you with the two vases of Thoth, and they purify you so that there may not exist in you the power of destruction that belongs to you. you are pure. you are pure. Pure is the _seman_ incense that opened your mouth. Taste the taste thereof in the divine dwelling. _Seman_ incense is the emission of Horus ; it established the heart of Horus - Seth, it purified the gods who are in the following of Horus. you are censed with natron. you are established among the gods your brethren. your mouth is like that of a sucking calf on the day of its birth. you are censed. you are censed. you are pure. you are pure. you are established among your brethren the gods. your head is censed. your mouth is censed. your bones are purified. that is inherent in you shall not touch you. I have given you the Eye of Horus, and your face is filled therewith. you are shrouded in incense."

    The next ceremony, the ninth, represented the re-birth of the Pharaoh, who was personified by a priest. The priest, wrapped in the skin of a bull, lay on a small bed and feigned death. When the chief priest had said, "O my father," four times, the priest representing the Pharaoh came forward from the bull's skin, and sat up; this act symbolized the resurrection of the Pharaoh in the form of a spirit-body (_sahu_). The chief priest then asserted that the Pharaoh was alive, and that he should never be removed, and that he was similar in every way to Horus. The priest personifying the Pharaoh then put on a special garment, and taking a staff or sceptre in his hand, said, "I love my father and his transformation. I have made my father, I have made a statue of him, a large statue. Horus loves those who love him." He then pressed the lips of the statue, and said, "I have come to embrace you. I am your son. I am Horus. I have pressed for you your mouth.... I am your beloved son." The words then said by the chief priest, "I have delivered this mine eye from his mouth, I have cut off his leg," mean that the Pharaoh was delivered from the jaws of death, and that a grievous wound had been inflicted on the god of death, Seth

    Whilst these ceremonies were being performed the animals brought to be sacrificed were slain. Chief of these were two bulls, gazelle, geese, and their slaughter typified the conquest and death of the enemies of the dead Pharaoh. The heart and a fore-leg of each bull were presented to the statue of the Pharaoh, and the priest said: "Hail, Osiris ! I have come to embrace you. I am Horus. I have pressed for you your mouth. I am your beloved Son. I have opened your mouth. your mouth has been made firm. I have made your mouth and your teeth to be in their proper places. Hail, Osiris ! I have opened your mouth with the Eye of Horus." Then taking two instruments made of metal the priest went through the motion of cutting open the mouth and eyes of the statue, and said: "I have opened your mouth. I have opened your two eyes. I have opened your mouth with the instrument of Anpu. I have opened your mouth with the Meskha instrument wherewith the mouth of the gods was opened. Horus opened the mouth and eyes of the Osiris. Horus opened the mouth of the Osiris even as he opened the mouth of his father. As he opened the mouth of the god Osiris so shall he open the mouth of my father with the iron that comes forward from Seth, with the Meskha instrument of iron wherewith he opened the mouth of the gods shall the mouth of the Osiris be opened. And the Osiris shall walk and shall talk, and his body shall be with the Great Company of the gods who dwell in the Great house of the Aged One (_i.e._ the Sun-god) who dwelled in Anu. And he shall take possession of the Urrt Crown therein before Horus, the Lord of mankind. Hail, Osiris ! Horus has opened your mouth and your eyes with the instruments Sebur and An, wherewith the mouths of the gods of the South were opened....

    All the gods bring words of power. They recite them for you. They make you to live by them. you become the possessor of twofold strength. you make the passes that give you the fluid of life, and their life fluid is about you. you are protected, and you shall not die. you shall change your form among the Doubles of the gods. you shall rise up as a Pharaoh of the South. you shall rise up as a Pharaoh of the North. you are endowed with strength like all the gods and their Doubles. Shu has equipped you. He has exalted you to the height of heaven. He has made you to be a wonder. He has endowed you with strength."

    The ceremonies that followed concerned the dressing of the statue of the Pharaoh and his food. Various kinds of bandlets and a collar were presented, and the gift of each endowed the Pharaoh in the Other World with special qualities. The words recited by the priest as he offered these and other gifts were highly symbolic, and were believed to possess great power, for they brought the Double of the Pharaoh back to this earth to live in the statue, and each time they were repeated they renewed the life of the Pharaoh in the Other World.

  2. The Liturgy of Funerary Offerings

    Under the earliest dynasties the belief in the efficacy of sacrifices and offerings was an essential of the Egyptian Religion. The opening ceremonies had for their object the purification of the deceased by means of sprinkling with water in which salt, natron, and other cleansing substances had been dissolved, and burning of incense. Then followed the presentation of about one hundred and fifty offerings of food of all kinds, fruit, flowers, vegetables, various kinds of wine, seven kinds of precious ointments, wearing apparel of the kind suitable for a Pharaoh, As each object was presented to the spirit of the Pharaoh, which was present in his statue in the Tuat Chamber of the tomb, the priest recited a form of words, which had the effect of transmuting the substance of the object into something which, when used or absorbed by the Pharaoh's spirit, renewed the Pharaoh's life and maintained his existence in the Other World. Every object was called the " Eye of Horus," in allusion to its life-giving qualities. The following extracts illustrate the Liturgy of Funerary Offerings:

    32. This libation is for you, Osiris, this libation is for you, Unas. (_Here offer cold water of the North._) It comes forward before your son, comes forward before Horus. I have come, I have brought to you the Eye of Horus, that your heart may be refreshed thereby. I have brought it and have set it under your sandals, and I present to you that which flowed forward from you. There shall be no stoppage to your heart whilst it is with you, and the offerings that appear at the command shall appear at your word of command. (_Recite four times._)

    37. you have taken possession of the two Eyes of Horus, the White and the Black, and when they are in your face they illumine it. (_Here offer two jugs of wine, one white, one black._)

    38. Day has made an offering to you in the sky. The South and the North have given offerings to you. Night has made an offering to you. The South and the North have made an offering to you. An offering is brought to you, look upon it; an offering, hear it. There is an offering before you, there is an offering behind you, there is an offering with you. (_Here offer a cake for the journey._)

    41. Osiris Unas, the white teeth of Horus are presented to you so that they may fill your mouth. (_Here offer five bunches of onions._)

    47. O Ra, the worship that is paid to you, the worship of every kind, shall be paid to Unas. Everything that is offered to your body shall be offered to the Double of Unas also, and everything that is offered to his body shall be your. (_Here offer the table of holy offerings._)

    61. O you perfume oil, you perfume oil, which are on the forehead of Horus, set you yourselves on the forehead of Unas, and make him to smell sweet through you. (_Here offer perfume oil of cedar of the finest quality._)

    62. Make you him to be a spirit- soul (_khu_) through possession of you, and grant you him to have the mastery over his body, let his eyes be opened, and let all the spirits see him, and let them hear his name. Behold, Osiris Unas, the Eye of Horus has been brought to you, for it has been seized for you that it may be before you. (_Here offer the finest Thehenu perfume oil._)

  3. Hymns to Nut and Ra

    Hymn to Nut, the Sky-goddess
    Nut, you have extended yourself over your son the Osiris Pepi,
    you have snatched him out of the hand of Seth ; join him to yourself, Nut
    you came, snatch your son; behold, you came, form this great one to yourself.
    Nut, cast yourself upon your son the Osiris Pepi.
    Nut, cast yourself upon your son the Osiris Pepi.
    Form you him, O Great Fashioner; this great one is among your children.
    Nut, you did become a spirit.
    you wast a mighty goddess in the womb of your mother Tefnut when you wast not born.
    Form you Pepi with life and well-being; he shall not die. Strong was your heart,
    you did leap in the womb of your mother in your name of Nut
    perfect daughter, mighty one in your mother, who art crowned like a Pharaoh of the North,
    Make this Pepi a soul in you, let him not die.
    Great Lady, who did come into being in the sky, who art mighty.
    Who do make happy, and do fill every place (or being), with your beauty,
    The whole earth is under you, you have taken possession of it.
    you have encompassed the earth, everything is in your two hands,
    Grant you that this Pepi may be in you like an imperishable star.
    you have associated with Keb in your name of "Pet" (Sky).
    you have united the earth in every place.
    mistress over the earth, you are above your father Shu, you have the mastery over him.
    He has loved you so much that he setteth himself under you in everything.
    you have taken possession of every god for yourself with his boat
    you have made them shine like lamps,
    Assuredly they shall not cease from you like the stars.
    Let not this Pepi depart from you in your name of "Hert"

    Hymn to the Sun-god Ra
    Hail to you, Tem! Hail to you, Kheprer, who created himself.
    you are the High, in this your name of "Height."
    you camest into being in this your name of "Kheprer"
    Hail to you, Eye of Horus, which he furnisheth with his hands completely.
    He permitteth not you to be obedient to those of the West, East, south and North
    He permitteth not you to be obedient to those who are in the earth
    [For] you are obedient to Horus.
    He it is who has furnished you, he it is who has builded you, he it is who has made you to be dwelt in.
    you doest for him whatsoever he saith to you, in every place whither he goeth.
    you liftest up to him the water-fowl that are in you.
    you liftest up to him every tree that is in you.
    you liftest up to him the cakes and ale that arein you.
    you liftest up to him the gifts that are in you.
    you liftest up to him everything that is in you.
    you takest them to him in every place wherein it pleases him to be.
    The doors upon you stand fast [shut] like the god Anmutef,
    They open not to those who are in the West, East, North and South
    They open not to those who are in the middle of the earth
    But they open to Horus.
    He it was who made them, he it was who made them stand
    He it was who delivered them from every evil attack which the god Seth made upon them.
    He it was who made you to be a settled country in this your name of "Kerkut"
    He it was who passed bowing after you in your name of Nut
    He it was who delivered you from every evil attack which Seth made upon Pepi 2

  4. The Pharaoh in Heaven

    The following passages describe the power of the Pharaoh in heaven, and his felicity there:

    "The sky has withdrawn the life of the star Septet (Sothis, the Dog-star); behold Unas a living being, the son of Septet. The Eighteen gods have purified him in Meskha (the Great Bear), he is an imperishable star. The house of Unas perisheth not in the sky, the throne of Unas perisheth not on the earth. Men make supplication there, the gods fly thither. Septet has made Unas fly to heaven to be with his brethren the gods. Nut, the Great Lady, has unfolded her arms to Unas. She has made them into two divine souls at the head of the souls of Anu, under the head of Ra. She made them two weeping women when you wast on your bier. The throne of Unas is by you, Ra, he yields it not up to anyone else. Unas comes forward into heaven by you, Ra. The face of Unas is like the faces of the Hawks. The wings of Unas are like those of geese. The nails of Unas are like the claws of the god Tuf. There is no evil word concerning Unas on earth among men. There is no hostile speech about him with the gods. Unas has destroyed his word, he has ascended to heaven. Upuatu has made Unas fly up to heaven among his brethren the gods. Unas has drawn together his arms like the Smen goose, he striketh his wings like a falcon, flying, flying. O men, Unas flieth up into heaven.

    "O you gods of the West, East, South and North, you four groups who embrace the holy lands, devote you yourselves to Osiris when he appeareth in heaven. He shall sail into the Sky, with his son Horus by his fingers. He shall announce him, he shall make him rise up like the Great god in the Sky. They shall cry out concerning Unas: Behold Horus, the son of Osiris ! Behold Unas, the firstborn son of Hathor ! Behold the seed of Keb! Osiris has commanded that Unas shall rise as a second Horus, and these Four souls in Anu have written an edict to the two great gods in the Sky. Ra set up the Ladder in front of Osiris, Horus set up the Ladder in front of his father Osiris when he went to his spirit, one on this side [and] one on the other side; Unas is between them. Behold, he is the god of the pure seats coming forward from the bath. Unas standeth up, lo Horus ; Unas sitteth down, lo Seth. Ra graspeth his hand, spirit to heaven, body to earth."

    The power of the Pharaoh in heaven was almost as absolute as it was upon earth, and in a very remarkable passage in the text of Unas, which is repeated in the text of Teta, we have a graphic description of the Pharaoh as a mighty hunter, who chases the gods and lassoes them, and then kills and eats them in order that he may absorb their strength and wisdom, and all their divine attributes, and their power of living eternally. The passage reads:
    "The skies lower, the Star-gods tremble, the Archers quake, the bones of the Akeru gods tremble, and those who are with them are struck dumb when they see Unas rising up as a soul, in the form of the god who liveth upon his fathers, and who turneth his mothers into his food. Unas is the lord of wisdom, and his mother knoweth not his name. The adoration of Unas is in heaven, he has become mighty in the horizon like Temu, the father that gave him birth, and after Temu had given him birth Unas became stronger than his father. The Doubles (vital strength) of Unas are behind him, the soles of his feet are beneath his feet, his gods are over him, his serpents are seated upon his brow, the serpent-guides of Unas are in front of him, and the spirit of the flame looketh upon his soul. The powers of Unas protect him. Unas is a bull in heaven. He directeth his steps where he willeth. He liveth upon the form which each god taketh upon himself, and he eats the flesh of those who come to fill their bellies with the magical charms in the Lake of Fire. Unas is equipped with power against the souls thereof, and he riseth in the form of the mighty one, the lord of those who dwell in power. Unas has taken his seat with his back turned towards Keb (the Earth-god). Unas has weighed his words with the hidden god who has no name, on the day of hacking in pieces the firstborn. Unas is the lord of offerings, the untier of the knot, and he himself maketh abundant the offerings of meat and drink. Unas devoureth men, and liveth upon the gods, he is the lord of envoys whom he sendeth forward on his missions. 'He who cutteth off hairy scalps,' who dwelleth in the fields, tieth the gods with ropes. Tcheser-tep shepherdeth them for Unas and driveth them to him; and the Cord-master has bound them for slaughter. Khensu, the slayer of the wicked, cutteth their throats, and draweth out their intestines, for it is he whom Unas sendeth to slaughter them, and Shesmu cutteth them in pieces, and boileth their members in his blazing caldrons of the night. Unas eats their magical powers, and he swalloweth their spirit-souls. The great ones among them serve for his meal at daybreak, the lesser serve for his meal at eventide, and the least among them serve for his meal in the night. The old gods become fuel for his furnace.

    The mighty ones in heaven light the fire under the caldrons wherein are heaped up the thighs of the firstborn; and he who maketh those who live in heaven to go about for Unas lighteth the fire under the caldrons with the thighs of their women; he goeth about the Two heaven in their entirety, and he goeth round about the two banks of the Celestial Nile. Unas is the Great Power, the Power of Powers, and Unas is the Chief of the gods in visible forms. Whatsoever he findeth upon his path he eats forthwith, and the magical might of Unas is before that of all the spirit-bodies who dwell in the horizon. Unas is the firstborn of the firstborn gods. Unas is surrounded by thousands, and oblations are made to him by hundreds; he is made manifest as the Great Power by Saah (Orion), the father of the gods. Unas repeated his rising in heaven, and he is crowned lord of the horizon. He has reckoned up the bandlets and the arm-rings of his captives, he has taken possession of the hearts of the gods. Unas has eaten the Red Crown, and he has swallowed the White Crown ; the food of Unas is the intestines, and his meat is hearts and their words of power. Behold, Unas eats of that which the Red Crown sendeth forward, he increased, and the words of power of the gods are in his belly; his attributes are not removed from him. Unas has eaten the whole of the knowledge of every god, and the period of his life is eternity, and the duration of his existence is everlastingness.
    He is in the form of one who doeth what he wished, and who doth not do what he hateth, and he abideth on the horizon for ever and ever and ever. The Soul of the gods is in Unas, their spirit-souls are with Unas, and the offerings made to him are more than those that are made to the gods. The fire of Unas is in their bones, for their soul is in Unas, and their shades are with those who belong to them. Unas has been with the two hidden Kha gods, the seat of the heart of Unas is among those who live upon this earth for ever and ever and ever."

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By Ayman Fadl - Copyright © 2001-2014