Canopic Shrine

CANOPIC SHRINE A box carved from stone or made of wood, the canopic shrine housed the set of four CANOPIC JARS that held the internal organs of the deceased. Because of its valuable contents, four different gods protected the shrine.

In Tutankhamen’s tomb, the canopic shrine was made of gilded wood, and each of the four sides was protected by a different goddess. Each goddess was associated with one of the FOUR SONS OF HORUS, who protected the internal organs. Messi was guarded by ISIS, Hapi by NEPHTHYS, Duamutef by NEITH, and Qebesenef by SELKET Inside the wooden shrine was a smaller alabaster shrine divided into four compartments containing four miniature gold- fins for Tutankhamen’s internal organs. A magical spell carved on each coffin invoked the appropriate son of Horus and the protective goddess.

Words spoken by Isis: I close my arms over that which is in me. I protect Mesti, who is in me, Mesti Osiris King Neb Kheperu Re, true of voice before the Great God.

Words spoken by Nephthys: I embrace with my arms that which is in me. I protect Hapi Osiris King Neb Kheperu Re, true of voice before the Great God.

Words spoken by Neith: I encircle with my arms that which is in me. I protect Duamutef who is in me, Duamutef Osiris King Neb Kheperu Re, true of voice before the Great God.

Words were spoken by Selket: My two arms are on what is in me. I protect Qebesenef who is in me, Qebesenef Osiris King Neb Kheperu Re, true of voice

The contents of the canopic shrine needed to be properly oriented to the four cardinal points—true north, south, east, and west—and instructions on the shrine tell which direction each goddess should face. In Tutankhamen’s tomb, when the workmen assembled the shrine, they didn’t follow directions. Selket should have faced east and Nephthys should have faced south, but the workmen reversed them.