Pictured below is the wooden door of Hesire, a Third Dynasty high level official. When his height (measured to the hairline) is divided into 18 even segments it is observed that the figure's proportions conform to those determined by the classic canon. His navel in particular is exactly where one would expect to find it according to the canon. This figure, being of earlier design than Khufu's pyramid and also containing the classic proportions, is then an apt one to use when making a comparison of the human proportions and those of the substructure of Khufu's pyramid.
Hesire, Third Dynasty Physician and Dentist
(roll mouse over to compare with the pyramid's layout)
The vertical line that passes through the King's chamber marks the east-west centreline of the pyramid,
the whole passage system being offset to the east of the centre-line by almost 24 feet.
The proportional relationship between the height of the King's chamber ceiling and the height of the pyramid's entrance is shown above to be 18:11. This is the same relationship that exists between a figure's height (reduced to the hairline) and the height of his navel as determined by the classic proportions utilised by artists as early as the Third Dynasty.
The Entrance to the Pyramid
The Navel of Osiris
After his body has entered the pyramid, the King undergoes a transitional phase in which he is reborn. The role that the navel plays in this process is most significant. For the child in the womb, the navel is the entrance to it's body, which is connected, via the umbilical cord, to the source of the child's sustenance. The 'navel of Osiris' is mentioned in the texts in relation to the King's food supply.
In utterance 204 of the Pyramid Texts, for example, it is written:
"The finger of Unas, the small one, draws out that which is in the navel of Osiris.
Unas is not thirsty, he is not hungry..."
Of a papyrus detailing stories of Khufu's life, Budge writes:
"In the Westcar Papyrus we are told that when the three sons of Redjedef were born, the four Meskhenit goddesses who were present at their birth washed in turn each child, cut off his umbilical cord, and placed it in a four-sided cloth which was laid in a stone box. From the fact that the goddesses preserved the cord and wrapped it up in cloth and laid it in a box we are justified in assuming that they attached great importance to it, and that they intended to preserve it. Now Osiris was a king form his birth, and the three sons of Redjedef were destined to become Kings, and it is therefore clear that under the Ancient Empire, and long before, the Egyptians were in the habit of preserving the umbilical cords of Kings and great personages.
What they did with them the texts do not say, but the customs of Uganda and Unyoro throw some light on the matter, for the Baganda and Banyoro have been in the habit of preserving the umbilical cords of kings for untold generations. Thus Speke tells us:
'The umbilical cords are preserved from birth, and, at death,
those of men are placed within the door-frame.' 1
Such significance placed on the preservation of the umbilical cords of Kings and its association with the door-frame at the time of death shows a remarkable similarity to what is illustrated by the sub-structure of Khufu's pyramid, as seen in the picture above. The application of the artist's canon indicates that the body of Khufu entered the pyramid through the navel of the internal 'statue' of Osiris.
The entrance passages of many pyramids were intentionally aimed in the direction of the north celestial pole, the navel of the Night Sky, the centre around which the stars appear to rotate.
The Four Sons of Horus and the Celestial Pole
The Ancient Egyptians associated the Four Sons of Horus with the four organs of the deceased, the lids of the canopic jars in which the organs were individually kept were fashioned in the shape of the four son's heads.
The Four Sons of Horus
These Gods later became equated with the four cardinal directions, or more precisely, the four pillars upon which the heavens rested. Perhaps this association stemmed from the fact that the alignment of the four sides of the pyramid with the four cardinal points was ascertained by observing the stars in the northern polar region of the sky as described in the 'Stretching of the Cord' ritual. The four sons of Horus are described in the texts as being related to this group of stars:
"Imsety, Hapy, Duamutef, and Qebehsenuef,
it is these who are behind the Constellation of the Thigh in the northern sky." 2
The Ancient Egyptian word for 'Thigh' is Khepesh and is the word used to denote the collection of stars commonly known today as the 'Big Dipper'. They form the constellation of Ursa Major, which closely circles the north celestial pole, the region of the sky targeted by the descending passage of the pyramid.
This connection of the Four Sons of Horus with the constellation Ursa Major has been discussed by Egyptologist John Gee. His entire masters thesis was on the Four Sons of Horus, in which he noted that they were originally equated with the four stars of the 'bowl' of the Big Dipper. 3
Bernard Mathieu confirmed the same in his paper 'Theology and Astronomy Investigations in the Pyramid Texts'.4
The celestial Four Sons of Horus could, then, be viewed as cranking the wheel of the cosmos, which is centered on the north celestial pole, the focus of the pyramid's entrance - the navel of the Osiris-Djed. This clockwork-like mechanism would provide the Sun, and therefore the dead King, with the force that will lift him up to be reborn in the eastern horizon after having descended into the depths of the Duat.
The Pyramid Texts speak of the Four Sons of Horus lifting the King into the sky together with the morning Sun:
"These four gods Imsety, Hapy, Duamutef, and Qebehsenuef,
the children of Horus, they tie the rope-ladder for this King
they cause the King to mount up to Khepri when he comes into being "
- PT 688.
The pyramid's statue of Osiris-Djed is connected to this powerful cosmic centre via an invisible umbilical cord, formed by the line of sight through the descending passage and out through the pyramid's entrance.
The North Wind
It might be interesting to note the importance of Ursa Major and the energy emanating from North celestial pole to practitioners of ancient Chinese Medicine. They called this the 'Universal Force' which, after being drawn into the body and then combined with the 'Earth Force' absorbed through the feet, is then circulated around the navel.
The Chinese view the navel as being a door through which wind is drawn into and expelled from the body. Sometimes medicine is given to small children through the navel rather than the mouth, this is done by grinding the herbs and applying them directly onto the navel. Traditional Chinese medicine affirms that the navel is connected to all the organs of the body. 5 The acupuncture point on the backbone at the height of the navel is called the "Door of Life".
The Ancient Egyptian texts similarly refer to the life-giving properties of the North wind. In the following text the reborn king is given the North Wind:
"I have given the sweet breath of the North wind to Osiris
Wennefer as when he went forth from the womb of her who bore him..."
- Book of the Dead, chapter 182.6
In the Pyramid Texts the rejuvenating North Wind is brought into the tomb:
"This is this cavern of yours, the Broad Hall, O Osiris this King,
which brings the wind that it may strengthen
the north-wind and lift you up as Osiris this King."
- Pyramid Texts 581.
The North wind enters the pyramid through the opening of the descending passage located on the northern face of the pyramid. Before the entrance to the pyramid was finally sealed, the North wind with its reviving powers entered Khufu's tomb through the navel of the internal 'statue' of Osiris, just as the baby in the womb receives it's life-giving sustenance through the navel.
Once the baby is born the umbilical cord connecting him to his source of food, that is his Mother, is severed closing off this entrance to the body. The mouth is then opened and the airway cleared so that the newly born child can breath. The mouth has now become the opening through which the body takes in sustenance in the form of air, food and drink.
The child's transition from the womb into the new world was emulated in a ritual called the 'Opening of the Mouth' in which the umbilical cord of the statue or mummy was ceremonially cut with a knife called the Pesesh-Kef. 7
Another tool used in the 'Opening of the Mouth' was called Meskhetiu, a word denoting aspects of 'birth' by the usage of the 'ms' ideogram, Gardiner's F31. This tool was fashioned in the shape of the bull's thigh or the 'Constellation of the Thigh' and the same word Meskhetiu is used in the texts as a reference to this constellation in the northern sky, which in this case, is the focus of the Osiris-Djed's navel. 8
Marie Parsons, who wrote an article on the 'Opening of the Mouth' ceremony in Tour Egypt, explains that it was not only carried out on the mummified body of the king but also on ka statues and even entire temples:
"The ritual that would re-animate the deceased was called The Opening of the Mouth ceremony. It was an important ritual in both funerary and in temple practice. The Opening of the Mouth originated as a ritual to endow statues with the capacity to support the living ka, and to receive offerings. It was performed on cult statues of gods, kings, and private individuals, as well as on the mummies of both humans and Apis bulls. It was even performed on the individual rooms of temples and on the entire temple structure
The effect of the ritual was to animate the recipient (or, in the case of a deceased individual, to re-animate it).
The ritual allowed the mummy, statue, or temple, to eat, breathe, see, hear and enjoy the offerings and provisions performed by the priests and officiants, thus to sustain the ka."
"The earliest Old Kingdom textual references to the ceremony date to the early 4th dynasty, to the Palermo stone and the decoration of the tomb of the royal official Metjen. At this time, the ritual seems to have been performed solely to animate statues, rather than to re-animate the deceased."
The King's Chamber
The 'House of the Coffer'
Neb-Sokar, meaning: 'Lord of the Coffer' is a title of Osiris and the name of the figure placed in the tomb. 9
A slight variation of this word is Neb-Sokar-t, which means 'House of the Coffer'. The 'House' determinative hieroglyph in this word replaces that of 'God'. The 'House of the Coffer' later became the place in which the Djed pillar was worshipped. 10
According to tradition, Neb-Sokar-t was located in the portion of Djedu where the Jaws of Osiris were preserved. 11
Once the depiction of Osiris-Djed is realised in the Great Pyramid's internal chamber system, it can be observed that the figure's jaws are located in the western half of the King's chamber - the very position of the granite coffer.
Khufu's Sarcophagus Chamber & the Mouth of Osiris
Neb-Sokar the 'Lord of the Coffer'
= Title of Osiris and the body in the tomb
Neb-Sokar-t the 'House of the Coffer'
= Place associated with the Jaws of Osiris
In this particular case, Neb-Sekert or 'House of the Coffer' is indeed the location of the Jaws of the Osiris. Here, in the most sacred part of the pyramid, the ritual of the 'Opening of the Mouth' may have been performed inside the mouth of the colossal statue. This action would endow the entire tomb sub-structure,which forms this gigantic cult statue of the king, with the capacity to receive offerings and in turn support his living ka.
Like the umbilical chord, the Jaw bones played a significant role in the funerary customs of early Egyptian Kings. In African burials, it was customary to remove the lower jaw before burial. The jawbone was preserved with honor in a house built especially for it. With the development of the cult of Osiris, however, all the parts of the body had to be reunited for the King to be reborn. 12 This reconstitution of his jaws and mouth enabled him to eat and drink the offerings that were presented to him after death.
In the Pyramid Texts of Unas we find the phrase:
"O King, I fasten for you your jaws which were divided - pesesh-kef"
- PT 37.
In chapter 99 of the Book of the Dead the deceased says that the god (Osiris) is equipped, that he is equipped; that the god (Osiris) is provided with jawbones, and that he is provided with jawbones.
Khufu's body is united with the jaws of the colossal figure of Osiris that stands inside his pyramid. His body is placed in the sarcophagus, directly into the mouth of Osiris. The mummified body of the king could have served as the food (kau) that would sustain his Ka in the tomb. 13
"In the case of a very great man such a figure is placed in the middle of the town or village, in order that the living may benefit by consultation with the Ka when it visits is there was such an image twelve feet high in the centre of a circle of Elephant's tusks and the natives were in the habit of making offerings of Palm oil and goats blood to it. Not only was it necessary to provide a figure for the King to dwell in, but if it was not to perish of cold, hunger and thirst, offerings of meat and drink, clothing, etc., must be placed in the tomb so that the ka might eat and drink..." 14
"In most villages (in Lower Niger) will be found a low hut, sometimes not larger than a dog-kennel, in which, among all tribes, are hung charms, or by which is a growing plant. In some tribes a rudely carved human figure stands in that hut as an idol. That idol, charm, or plant, as the case may be, is believed for the time to be the residence of a spirit, which is to be placated by offerings of food of some kind - a dish of boiled plantains or a plate of fish. This food is not generally removed till it spoils. Sometimes, where the gift is a large one, a feast is made; people and spirit are supposed to join in the festival, and nothing is left to spoil. That it is of use to the spirit is fully believed, and some say that the 'life', or essence of the food has been eaten by the spirit, only the material form remaining to be removed." 15
The Queen's Chamber
The 'Chamber of Offerings'
The so-called 'Queen's chamber' was named such by the first Arab explorers who's custom it was of burying women in tombs with gabled ceilings. Arab men were, in contrast, buried in tombs with flat ceilings hence the sarcophagus chamber in Khufu's pyramid is to this day known as the 'King's Chamber'.
It has been accepted in recent years that the three chambers of the Great Pyramid were not the result of a continuing change of plans, as previously proposed by Borchardt and others. The tenet that the three main chambers were intentionally planned from the outset is presently upheld by a number of Egyptologists, including Mark Lehner who argues that three chambers appear to have been the rule for Old Kingdom pyramids. 16
Prior to the violation of the pyramid, the passage leading to the Queen's chamber was originally sealed by a floor stone at the bottom end of the Grand Gallery. The Queen's chamber has the familiar characteristics of the serdab - a chamber built especially to house a statue, in which the King's ka would continue his existence. The Queen's chamber has a niche built into the eastern wall which, it has been theorised, held the Ka-statue of Khufu. 17
Although unsupported by hard evidence, Arab accounts claim that a statue made of green stone was found in the niche in the east wall of Queen's chamber. Caliph Al Mamoon, the first man to successfully break into the pyramid in 820 AD, is likewise reported as having found a statue of a man made of green stone standing inside the niche. This statue was said to have been seen later at the palace at Cairo in 511 A.H. 18
Eastern view of the Queen's chamber as a Serdab containing a Ka statue
Offerings were traditionally made by priests or relatives of the deceased to the King's ka, which took up residence in the statue after death.
Often two holes were made in one of the walls of the serdab so that the ka could see out. The only holes in the walls of the Queen's chamber are the two 'air shafts' in the north and south walls made famous by that little German robot called Upuaut II, the 'Opener of the Ways'. As these 8 by 8 inch outlets are at eye level they could be interpreted, symbolically at least, as eye holes for the Ka-statue.
Another more popular explanation is that these shafts were designed for the ba & ka to enter and leave the tomb through. Similar shafts in the burial chamber would also allow his ba & ka to visit his body at leisure but due to their small size would not allow the living to pass in and out of the chambers.
The upper ends of the Queen's chamber shafts stop short of the sides of the pyramid preventing any exit from the building and to further complicate matters, the lower ends were originally left sealed with only about five inches of limestone preventing entry to the chamber via the shafts. The purpose of the shafts is still being debated and even the possible future opening of the closure stone found behind 'Gantenbrink's Door' in the upper end of the Queens' chamber southern shaft may not give us any more of an idea of their intended function.
The King's Chamber & the Queen's Chamber
compared with the Body's digestive system
We have seen that the position of the King's chamber, in relation to the figure of Osiris inside the pyramid, is representative of his head. The Queen's chamber, on the other hand, is positioned lower, around the middle area of the torso. By applying the artist's canon of proportions, the apex of the gabled roof is found to be equal to the position of the Solar Plexus. The whole chamber occupies the area of the Stomach and the Liver.
Northern view of the Pyramid's internal structure
(roll mouse over to see corresponding organs)
The digestive system formed by the mouth, stomach and connecting esophagus is the anatomical architecture designed for extracting the energy from food (kau).
For the chamber where offerings were made to the ka to be positioned such that it corresponds precisely with the figure's stomach is fitting indeed. Such an arrangement enables the food to be placed directly inside the stomach, that part of the body that is responsible for storing, breaking down and digesting food. The result of this process is the production of energy to be used by the body and by the ka.
The small ka statue in its house could have functioned as a simulacrum or a surrogate for the much larger 'statue' of Osiris-Djed, formed by the pyramid's entire substructure. This enormous statue would then be seen as benefiting from the food offerings that were made to the smaller statue.
James Allen shows that in Utterance 205 of the Pyramid Texts the dead king establishes himself as the source of his own food-supply. 19 Khufu's mummified body is placed inside his sarcophagus, its position corresponding with the mouth. His ka resided in a ka statue in the chamber situated at the location of the stomach.
In this arrangement his own body lying in the mouth of the figure of Osiris would serve as food (kau) for his ka.
The correlation of the Ka chamber, with the body's largest organ, the liver is also very intriguing. Like the stomach, the liver is capable of producing energy from digested food. The liver converts glucose to a form of stored energy called glycogen, and can also produce glucose from sugars, starches, and proteins.
Thirty per cent of the blood pumped through the heart in one minute passes through the liver where it is detoxified. The only part of the body that receives more blood than the liver is the brain.
Chinese medicine regards the liver as the seat of the personality. The structure of the nervous system is considered to be like a potted plant which sprouts from the liver. Doctors teach that the smooth flow of Chi (body energy) can only occur if the liver is healthy.
In Ancient Egypt the canopic jar containing the liver was in the shape of the human-headed son of Horus, Imsety. The authority of Imsety over the other organs that were contained in animal-headed jars is reflected in the way in which he is described as the 'Leader of his Brethren'. In comparison, the Chinese call the liver the 'General of the Army'.
The choice of a human head for the god presiding over the liver may also reflect an ancient Egyptian view of the liver as the container of the personality. The word 'personality' has been suggested by both Faulkner and Gardiner as an appropriate definition of the ka. In this sense, a connection can be made between the Ka statue and the Liver considering that both may be seen as containers of the Ka.
The present hypothesis held by Egyptologists that the 'Queens' chamber possesses the familiar characteristics of a Ka chamber or serdab, is strengthened by the fact that its location within the pyramid correlates with the position of the liver inside the body, the organic container of the personality, or ka.
Locked so accurately onto the four pillars of heaven, the foundations of the pyramid are earthed with enduring stability. Its long narrow entrance passage built with fine precision is rooted deep in the Earth underneath the pyramid but is aimed at the centre of the Heavens. The innovative arrangement of the tomb's substructure to portray the figure of the resurrected God with his legs buried in the earth like the roots of a tree enabled this connection with the Heavens to be interpreted as the umbilical cord of Osiris connected with the belly of the sky goddess Nut, his mother.
The hollow statue of Osiris formed by the chamber system inside the pyramid meant that Khufu's ba, when visiting the the tomb to receive sustenance, would further emulate the sun god Re's journey into the Duat where he is regenerated by his union with Osiris.
The same themes of rebirth and renewal conveyed in the Pyramid Texts are expressed in the substructure of Khufu's pyramid. Its original name of Akhet denotes the pyramid as the place of manifestation of Khufu's akh and describes it appropriately as his own House of Going Forth By Day.
"O Re-Atum, this King comes to you, an Imperishable Spirit,
Lord of the affairs of the place of the Four Pillars;
your Son comes to you, this King comes to you.
May you traverse the sky, being united in the darkness;
may you rise in the Akhet,
in the place where it is well for you."
Pyramid Texts, Utterance 217.
1. Osiris vol. II, pg. 94, 95.
2. Papyrus of Ani, chapter 17, plate 9. The word khepesh is translated here as 'Constellation of the Thigh', rather than ' Great Bear', see Dictionary of Middle Egyptian, pg. 189. See also Egyptian Grammar, pg 464.
3. Notes on the Sons of Horus, Masters Thesis Partial Requirement, FARMS, 1991: 35.
4.Mathieu, Bernard, Les Enfants d'Horus, theologies et astronomie (Enquetes dans les Textes des Pyramides, 1)
5. See Ji Liao Zhi Bai Bing (The Navel Treatment of Hundreds of Diseases) by Wang Fu-chun & Zhang Ying-xin, published in Changchun in 1993.
6. Papyrus of Ani, the Theban Recension, pg. 133.
7. See Dictionary of Middle Egyptian, pg. 95, 118 and EHD, pg. 326. See also PT 37.
8. Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary vol. 1, pg. 326. See also Dictionary of Middle Egyptian, pg 118, and Egyptian Grammar, pg .464.
9. Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary vol. 1, pg. 364.
10. Osiris vol. I, pg. 52.
11. Gods of the Egyptians vol. II, pg. 122.
12. Osiris II, pg. 92.
13. Faulkner describes the ka as 'personality' as well as 'soul', 'spirit', 'will' and 'essence of being' (DME, pg. 283). According to Lehner, the ka is equated with 'Life force' (CP, pg. 23). Gardiner gives 'spirit', 'self', 'personality', 'soul', and 'individuality' as some of the meanings of ka (EG, pg. 172). From his analysis of the texts of Fifth Dynasty priest, Ptah-Hotep (see AEL, pages 61-80, Miriam Lichtheim), Petrie shows that 'mind' or 'inner consciousness' are accurate definitions of the ka. (RC, note D, pg. 178). It was believed that at a person's birth, both the ka and the body were fashioned at the same time by Khnum on his potter's wheel. We saw on the Osiris-Djed page that Khnum is hieroglyphically described as a djed pillar with arms, like a combination of the Djed and Ka hieroglyphs (Gardiner's R11 and D28).
14. Budge, Osiris, vol I, pg. 264.
15. Ibid, pg. 262.
16. Lehner, Complete Pyramids, pg. 111.
18. See Appendix notes to vol. II of Operations at the Pyramids of Gizeh by Col. Richard Howard Vyse. London,1840.
19. Reading a Pyramid, pg. 17.
The Concept of the Pyramid
Canon of Proportions
The Pyramid and the Body