By Samuel Birch, D.C.L., LL.D., F.S.A., &c. (President)

[Extracted from TSBA, 8 (1885), pp. 386-97.]

Read 2nd December, 1884

Plates I, II, III, IV

By the expression shade or shadow there can be no doubt that the shade meant the actual shade or shadow, for the gods are said to be "refreshed by their shadow," [glyphs] sul and again in the often cited passage where the gods or souls are described as reposing under the shade of the branches of the trees. Again, in the description of the examination of the chamber of Abydos for the body of the god Osiris, where it states of the body—

nn qamuts χaibti pu qamit
not was it found a shade it was found

In a scene too of the lamentations of the body of Osiris tall curving [glyph] are seen over three figures lamenting, and the legend says:—

sn χabit χr su χnn su hr sn
... their shade with them rest they upon them.3

In all these passages the meaning is that of actual shade or shadow, without any spiritual allusion. So also of the serpent who is said to be devourer of shades, and the demon Asessor, who is called eater of shade coming out of the [p.387] Karti, supposed to refer to the tropical well4 at Syene. But shade or shadows were attached to spiritual existences as gods, spirits, and souls, and partook of the nature of these existences. They appear, however, distinct from them, and are mentioned separately from them. Nor can I find that they ate the food off the tables of offerings presented to the dead, like the has, or ghosts, although, like the soul, they could drink the pure water offered to the dead, for the gods gave—

per ak r asi kabh n χaibt f
to go in and out to the chamber pure water to his shade.

This applies to their connection with the kas, ghosts, or bas, souls, but the god also had shade—

sat neter ua n χaibt f
conducting a god to shade his.5

This is said of the goat-headed representations of the god Af passing through one of the hours of the night.

Attached to the soul, and also to the ka or 'Eidolon,' was the shade, which under the form [glyphs] of a shade or parasol appears in the texts placed above or at the side of representations of the soul. Phonetically it is written [glyphs] χab, χabit, or χaibit, and is the Coptic [Coptic], with a meaning similar to that of [Greek] or umbra of the Greek or Romans. The shade was supposed to be the light envelope of the soul, visible but not tangible, and is often mentioned in connection with the ba or 'soul,'6 as:—


nn χna tn ba a nn sbau tn χaibit a ull khaibit a un maten n ba a χaibit a7
not detain ye my soul do shut up ye shade my open the road to my soul my shade

And again—

nn taut m m χu a nn sχm ut khaibt a
is not taken off my spirit not prevailed over (is) my shade.8

The shade was supposed to wander over the earth, going to the tomb, visiting those who belonged to him, enjoying the offerings of his relations, and then disappearing to the body in the grave. In the hieroglyphic texts, however, the shade has no representation beyond the head or mummied form, nor is it ever represented like the deceased; so that no light is thrown upon the hypothesis of its representing the form of the deceased from the monuments themselves. There also appears to have been only one 'shade' to each ghost or soul, while of the sun it is stated that he had seven ba and fourteen ka, eidola, or phantasms, two attached to each soul; the ka, indeed, had a form, as appears from the coffin of Amam, which states of the deceased:—

tut rf ka r neter neb
the shape to him is the eidolon of god every

This would show that ka was the shape of every god. My object, however, is not to discuss the ka, which has been already amply done by Mr. Le Page Renouf and M. Maspero, [p.389] but to analyse the nature of the khaibit or 'shade' from the monuments.

The shade is mentioned with the soul at the earliest period, for in the inscriptions of the Pyramid of Unas, of the sixth dynasty, at Sakkarak, it states:—

sek bau sn χr χaibitu mtut ar sn
subdued souls their under Unas shades in the hand are they

"Their souls are under Unas, their shades are united together," and Unas devours the spirits in a burning hell.9

In the coffins of the eleventh dynasty, published by Lepsius, the shade is again mentioned as in the—

mas χaibit hna ka f
bringing the shade with his ghost10

where it is connected with the lea. It is however at the time of the eighteenth to the twentieth dynasty that the shades play the most prominent part in the inscriptions of the Tiau or under world.

In the Ritual the shades also appear:—

ahani a hr nut χaibit χu.
walk I in leading shades spirits11

Here it must be either shades of the dead, or souls of spirits, in which cases the shade was something appended [p.390] to the spirit, as the shade was apparently also to the soul, as in another chapter:—

ka arti pert ba χaibit am a χpr
would making way my soul shade where I am prepared

In another chapter, entitled the chapter of opening the chamber of the soul and shade coming forth daily sure of foot,12 there can be no doubt that the shade was independent of the soul, although not represented in the vignette, for besides the shade of the gods, of spirits, and souls, there was also the shade of the dead, as in the passage of the Ritual where it says: "Do not let me be imprisoned by the detainers of the limbs of Osiris, the detainers of soul, the [glyphs] χtom χabt, mut the lockers up of shades of the reprobate dead."13 Again, "Not prevailing over my shade (the deceased and living off) the shade of the dead."14 "Their souls," says another passage, "live by words accompanying their going out."

Some shades are called the damned, [glyphs] sebi t, in the Hades,15 while of others it is stated—

sχn sn her χaibit tn
turn back they on shades your

that "they turn back (or rest) on your shades." Of another of the gods of hell it is said "he cuts at your bodies"—

nk itu tau tn hbt χaibt tn
defeating souls your expelling shades your


And in the passage

ab spsnai ka ek ba n tet ba k n χaibt k saha k
purification twice to eidolon thine to body thine soul thine shades thine to mummy thine16

Here the elements of the dead are the ghost ka, the soul ba, the body tet, the shade khaibt, and the mummy sahu. The same is given from the unedited chapter of the Ritual of Amenhotep in the Louvre, "ye dividers of souls, all ye gods, who are lords of life, bring the soul of the Osiris Amenhotep that it may be united to his body, that his body may be united to his soul, his soul being separated from his body. The gods in Heliopolis (hat ben-ben) bring to him (his parts) at Heliopolis, the place of Shu, the son of Tum, his heart, ab, is to him as that of Ra, his other heart, hati, is to him as that of Khepera. Purification to thy ka (eidolon), to thy soul ba, to thy body tet, to thy shade khaibit."

Here it will be observed that although the deceased has only one ba, ka, and sahu, he has shades in the plural, as if shades were attached both to the ka and ba, for they are both mentioned before the sahu or body; and this recalls to mind that the Sun had seven souls, but fourteen ka, two eidola or genii17 to each soul, and here I would apply the text "O leaders of souls, directors of shades

ap k n χat k n χabit n sahu k as
open thou to body thy to shades of mummy thy noble.


I will now turn to the punishment of the shade. In a kind of caldron, also in the tombs of the kings, are seen the souls, bodies, and shades of the wicked, held up by two hands—

snusit bau χ(r)at ha t χaibtu n χtu
burnt are the souls the bodies and shades of the accusers.19

and in the burning pits of hell they are seen burning. The explanatory texts say, "that the shades live, they have raised their powers":—

anχ χaibtu tut sn nχ sn
live the shades lift their hands powerful are they.

from which it would appear that they survive the effect of [glyphs] the hat or pit; from a papyrus also of the nineteenth or twentieth dynasty. In another section of the hell, the gods of which are obscure, there are also other passages, as:—

nn per .... m χaibt mut sn
not come forth ... from shades of their dead

In the paintings of the burning hell in the tomb of the kings of the nineteenth dynasty, showing the punishment of the future state, it is said of the shades:—

hastem tn mut s'at tn χaibtu hastmi
strangle ye the dead cut ye the shades of the strangled.


That is, the shades were cut off the souls of the dead, and so separated from them. Again, in another scene, it says: "Those who live in this section make road. That great god addresses them, they rest. They

serq sn m χaibtu am ru nru
breathe they as shades from mouth to mouth.21

other descriptions of the soul are also given on the sarcophagus of Teos, as:—

mat tn χaibtu bau n nak
give the shades souls to the defeat.22

And again:—

hsstm n bau tn asq n χaibit tn
strangled have been souls your delayed have been shades your

In another section of the hell, the description is: "The gods in this picture adore the great god, because he is elevated above them, they receive his great disk and shade."24 In the representation accompanying this scene, the shades on the heads of the souls are coloured blue. In another scene, souls are seen with shades over their heads.25

Some account of the shades occurs also on the sarcophagus of Nekhtherhebi in the British Museum, in the scenes which refer to the passage of the sun through the hours of the night, where it states: "Those who are in this future in the flesh of their own bodies—

χru ba sn hr sn hotep χaibit sn hr sn
the words (of) souls their over them rest shade their over them

[p.394] their souls speak over them, their shades rest upon them, when that god addresses them they speak to him. they glorify him when he rises up. The Osirian king he glorifies that great god when he rises (ap) over the souls and shades what they do is in the West."26

In another passage of the same coffin the expression sat ba χftu χna χaibit nn, "cutting the condemned souls detaining the wretched shades. What they do is in the Amenti or West." Other things are also done by shades, for in another section of the same sarcophagus the passage of the sun is again explained. "That god goes along over them in peace, they have heard all the words, they imbibe his words. What they do is in the lower heaven, bringing souls, leading along shades, doing what is necessary for the souls in the water."

On the later wooden tablets of the period, ranging from the twenty-second dynasty to the Ptolemies, the procession of the solar boat is hailed by the soul [glyph] ba, with upraised hands, and the shade [glyph] χaibit.27 Here the shade appears as a companion of the soul. So again, the Sun says, "I, the Sun, manifest what is hidden, throw light upon mysteries, I give life to your souls [glyphs] seχen sen her χaibtu ten, "who alight on your shades"; so in the same scenes of the burning hells of the eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties, the texts state, "come the wicked dead,28 from whom I have escaped, my father strikes, after his wounding, your bodies, mutilating your souls [glyphs] habt, expelling your shades, your heads are cut off."

Ideas like those I have already given are translated from monuments of the papyri relating to the passage of the Sun through the second hour of the day. "The wicked dead come, whom my father strikes after his wounding, your bodies mutilating your souls expelling your shades, your heads are [p.395] cut off, you no longer have a type, you do not come out, you do not escape the burning of the serpent, devourer of 100,000 (years), the consuming of the mistress of the furnaces, the flames of the mistress of pits, the fires of mistress of blocks, the mistress of swords cuts you and wounds you, she stabs you, you will never see again those on earth."29

In the same hour of the night the souls of the opposers of Osiris Haratif are stated to be the jailers of the hole; they live off the cries of the souls of the wicked, suffocating the souls and shades who raise their hands at the burning pit.30

Again, it is said, "The serpent Na lives off the cries and roarings of Earth"; those attached to his worship proceed from his mouth daily. Those who are in this future receive the excellence (nefrit) of the Sun's boat, crossing from those devoted to the serpent called "The life of the gods." They love the great god in the heaven, the passage is to the upper distances. They assume the type in heaven of shades, and rest in the wind and water. When ordered to live they do so in the great boat of the Sun in heaven."31

This throws some light on the representation of shades in the later tablets, their existence with the souls in the solar boat, and their connection with the souls of men, for "never to see again those on earth," could hardly apply to demons,32 and when ordered to live under the type or form of shades, they are said to rest in the wind and water, and to participate in the boat of the Sun the eternal passage through the heavens.

In the tomb of a person named Nebunnef, at Thebes,33 dated in the 4th month of the spring of Rameses II, at Gournah, the deceased is represented in adoration to the four genii of the dead. Amset, the first, offers him his ka; Hapi, [p.396] the second genius, a vase; Tuaumutef, the third genius, his ba or soul, represented as a human-headed hawk; Khabsenuf, the fourth genius, his shade, represented as a bearded mummied figure having a flabellum on the head; Thoth offers him the feather of Truth and a mouth.

In the magical papyrus the shades are mentioned along with the daimons, but not in the same parenthesis as the soul, for it says: "Speak to me, Amset, god of gods, of the darkness that every daimon and every shade which is in the Amenti sleeping lie, and that those who are dead wake for me all this soul to live, and that soul to breathe."34 Here the soul, as distinguished from the shade, is supposed to breathe, one of the functions of the body.

Other descriptions of the conditions of the shades are found, as—

ar f pu m tiau n χaibitu am χeftu
he does is in the lower heaven to the shades eating the accusers.

and in the same place: "Said by that great god to the gods, rising to them when ye turn back and are resting in the lower hemisphere, to your souls ye rest and your shades."35

Different ideas have prevailed among those who have treated on the soul, such as that the shade represented the obscurity caused by a dark body, and of the soul separated from the body, the radiancy of the sahu or mummy manifested on earth as a shadow, and in heaven, or a radiancy, the type or form produced by the procreator demiurgus; to which I could add the thin material envelope which protected the soul from the intensity of the solar rays,36 following the vicissitudes of the soul and ghost.


The idea of a resurrection of the body is implied in some of these texts.

On the arrival of the Sun Ra at one of the gates of the Amenti, "Those," says the text, "who are in this picture, their bodies are in their chests in their holes." Their bodies rise up at him," Anubis keeps the words of that great god who gives light to them from his great disk to their chests he reckons his words. His tires and his abode dissipate the darkness when he flies over them."37

It does not appear that there was any resurrection of the shade.

I am indebted to Mr. Le Page Renouf for calling my attention to the following passage at Abydos38:—

ta nak hetp ba aa hr χat f χaibit f m atn
Thou hast given to rest the Soul great upon his body his shade in the disk.


1 "Recueil," 4, 66.
2 Mariette, "Abydos," i, 65, cited by Brugsch, "Worterb.," pp. 1029, 1044.
3 Sarcophagus of Peparsep, Sharpe, "Eg. Inscr." pl. 41.
4 De Rouge, "Inscr. Hier.," 1877, pl. 35.
5 Bonomi, Coffin of Oimenepthah pl. 13; cf. Champollion, "Not. Descr.," p. 521.
6 Reinisck, "Denkmaler in Miramar," p. 70.
7 "Todt.," ch. 22, 4.
8 "Todt.," ch. 92.
9 Maspero, "Rec," iv, 62.
10 Lepsius, "Aelteste Text," pl. 26, 8.
11 "Todt.," ch. 64, 18.
12 "Todt.," c. 92, title.
13 "Todt,," c. 92, 7.
14 "Todt.," 1-49, 19, 38, 40.
15 Champollion, "Not. Descr.," 787.
16 Coffin of Teos, in the Louvre: Sharpe, "Eg. Inscr.," New Series, 412 cited as in a papyrus also by Wiedemann, "Congr. provin. d. Orient. Français," 1880, p. 160.
17 Dumichen, "Patuamenapt," p. 11. Cf. Brugsch, "Worterb.," 1230; he calls the ka "character." Cf. same passage, Dumichen, "Tempel Inschrift. " pl. 25, all late texts.
18 Champollion, "Not. Descr.," 529.
19 Lanzone. "Le domicile des Esprits," pl. iv.
20 Champollion, "Not. Descr.," p. 789.
21 Champollion, "Not. Descr.," p. 788.
22 Sharpe, "Eg. Inscr.," new series, 7.
23 Ibid., pl. 15, 6.
24 Champollion, "Not. Descr.," p. 5S5.
25 "Not. Descr.," p. 621.
26  Egyptian Gall., Brit. Mus., 10.
27 Pierret, 10, p. 122.
28 Pierret, p. 135.
29 Pierret, p. 136.
30 Pierret, i, p. 136.
31 Pierret, i, p. 142.
32 Congres provinciale des Orientalistes, 1874; Wiedemann, p. 165; Textor de Ravisi, p. 187.
33 Champollion, "Not. Descr.," p. 536.
34 Maspero, "Mel. d'Arch.," p. 39.
35 Sharpe, "Eg. Inscr.," pi. 32.
36 Congres provinciale des Orientalistes, 1874; Wiedemann, p. 165; Textur de Ravisi, p. 183.
37 Champollion, "Not. Descr.," p. 543.
38 Mariette, "Abydos," Vol. I, pl. 52, lines 22 and 23.