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Book of the Dead chapter 149

The composition designated 'chapter 149' by Lepsius, from its position in the Ptolemaic Period papyrus of Iufankh, presents a numbered series of fourteen 'mounds' in the underworld. Each mound is addressed with reference to its inhabitants or landscape, and the encounter is used to empower the deceased: in this way, each potential obstacle to new life is converted into empowerment of the deceased.

Most of the fourteen parts of chapter 149 occur for the first time in the Eighteenth Dynasty, and are only known from this chapter; some parts recur as separate compositions in the Book of the Dead, some already occur in the Middle Kingdom (about 2025-1700 BC) among the funerary compositions written on the sides of coffins (the 'Coffin Texts'), and one section echoing one of the compositions inscribed on the walls within the Old Kingdom (about 2686-2181 BC) pyramids ('Pyramid Texts').

T G Allen compared the following parts with other Book of the Dead chapters or with Coffin and Pyramid Texts:

Book of the Dead chapter 149 other Book of the Dead chapter Coffin Text number
mound 2 107, 109 159, 161
mound 4 108, 111 160
mound 5 (part)   277 (part)
mound 6   685
mound 7 (part)   (Pyramid Text 430a)
mound 8 (part)   272-273, 383
mound 9 part 1, end   697 end
mound 9 part 2   690, start
mound 10   84 to 87
mound 11   278
mound 13 (part)   687



The vignettes (accompanying illustrations) for Book of the Dead chapter 149 present each mound in turn, in the form of an outline or plan of the mound, often with a figure and hieroglyphs evoking the deities mentioned in the chapter. This extraordinary series of plans has no close parallel. Beside each plan is a note relating to the pigmentation - generally wAD (usually translated green - note, though, the problems with translation of colour terms), but in three instances qni (usually translated yellow, with primary reference to the arsenic sulphide pigment orpiment, a bright yellow). The mounds marked wAD are painted blue or green, the mounds markes qni are painted yellow.

Following most copies of chapter 149 is a vignette, numbered by Lepsius as chapter 150, where the mounds are presented in a different sequence, and number fifteen rather than fourteen. The juxtaposition of the two versions (written and visual chapter 149, purely visual chapter 150) is an example of a very common practice in ancient Egyptian religious manuscripts, where different versions are recorded side by side. The manuscripts do not privilege one version over another - knowledge, especially of the unknown or divine, can evidently be expressed in more than one way.


Chapter 149 transliteration (using signs A, i, y, a, w, b, p, f, m, n, r, h, H, x, X, s, S, q, k, g, t, T, d, D) with translation


Chapter 149a (Mound 1)

i.iAt twy nt imnt anx.tw im.s m Sns tp-rw
kfA afnt.Tn m xsfw.i
twt is smsw im.Tn
Ts.f qsw.i smn.f awt.i
in n.i iHy nb ibw
sqd.f qsw.i smn.f wrrt itm
smn n.i tp.i nHb-kAw
mH smn bqsw
hqA.k m nTrw mnw qd

O this mound of the West, where one lives on cakes and fine vegetables,
Unwind your headcloths at my approach,
just as for the Eldest God among you.
may he bind my bones, and make my limbs firm.
Bring me Ihy, lord of hearts,
to have my bones built, to establish the Great Crown of Atum.
Make firm my head for me, O Nehebkau,
fill and make firm the balance.
Rule over the gods, Min the builder

Chapter 149b (Mound 2)

ink wr Xrt m sxt iArw
i.sxt iArw iw inbw.s m biA
qA n it.s m mH 7
iw Xmsw.s m mH 2
iw mAwt.f m mH 5
in Axw n mH 7 m Aw iry Asx st r-gs Hr-Axty
iw.i rx.kwi sbA Hr-ib n sxt-iArw
prrw ra im.f m iAbty pt
iw rs.f m S xArw mHty.f m nwt rw
bw sqdd ra im.f m TAw m Xnt
ink iry smiw m dpt-nTr
ink Xnn n wrd.f m wiA n ra
iw.i rx.kwi nhty iptn nt mfkAt
prrw ra im.sn Smyw Hr stt Sw
r sbA iAbty prrw ra im.f
iw.i rx.kwi sxt-iArw tw nt ra
iw qA n it.s m mH 5
iw Xmsw.s m mH 2
iw mAwt.f m mH 3
in Axw n mH 9 m Aw iry Asx st r-gs bAw iAbtyw

I am the lord of wealth in the Field of Reeds.
O Field of Reeds, whose walls are of iron,
whose barley grows 7 cubits tall,
whose grain ears are 2 cubits,
its stalk 5 cubits.
Spirits of 7 cubits in their length reap them beside Horakhty.
I know the middle door of the Field of Reeds
through which Ra goes out in the east of the sky.
Its south is in the lake of kharu-geese,
its north is in the wave of the ru-geese,
and the place where Ra sails with the winds and in rowing.
I am the keeper of reports in the boat of the god.
I am the one who rows untiring in the barque of Ra.
I know those two sycamore-trees of turquoise,
through which Ra goes out, which sprouted at the shooting of Shu
at the eastern door, through which Ra goes out.
I know that Field of Reeds of Ra,
whose barley grows 5 cubits tall,
whose grain ears are 2 cubits,
its stalk 3 cubits.
Spirits of 9 cubits in their length reap them beside the eastern powers.

Chapter 149c (Mound 3)

i.iAt twy nt Axw iwtt sqdwt Hr.s
iw.s Xr Axw
iw nsr m Axt nbit
i.nTrw imyw iAt tw nt Axw
Hr.Tn m Xr Dsrw iAt.Tn wab Tst.Tn
wddt ir.Tn n.i pw in wsir n Dt
ink wr dSrt imt-Hat Axw
sanx tAwy tmw m hh r.s
nHmt ra m-a aApp


O this mound of spirits, on which there is no sailing,
which bears the spirits,
while the flame is an engulfing fire.
O gods who are in that mound of spirits,
your faces downwards, sacred in your mounds, pure in your bindings.
This is what you are commanded to do for me by Osiris for eternity.
I am the great one of the Red Crown at the fore of the spirits,
who brings the Two Lands and all their people to life, by the flame of its mouth,
who rescues Ra from Aapep

Chapter 149d (Mound 4)

i.Hry-tp iAt StAt
i.Dw pwy qA aA imy Xrt-nTr
xnn pt Xrt Hr.f
ny-sw xt 300 m Aw.f xt 10 m wsx.f
iw HfAw Hr.f stt-dswy rn.f
ny-sw mH 70 m sin.f
anx.f m Hsq Axw mwtw m Xrt-nTr
aHa.i m Dri.k mAa sqdwt
mA.n.i wAt r.k
ink dmD ink TAy Hbs tp.k
wDA.i ink wr HkAw
rdi n.i irty.i Ax.i
iSst-pw Sm Hr Xt.f pHty.ky r Dw.k
mk wi Sm.kwi r.k pHty.ky m-a.i
ink wTs pHty ii.n.i awA.i Akrw n ra
Htp.n.i m mSrw dbn pt tn
iw.k m intt.k
wD n.k pw m-bAH

O he who dominates the secret mound,
O this tall and mighty mountain that is in the underworld
on which sky and earth alight,
measuring 300 rods in length and 10 rods in width,
with a serpent on it called Shooter of Two Knives,
measuring 70 cubits in its circuit,
living on cutting down spirits and damned in the underworld.
I stand in your stronghold, so that the sailing may be smooth,
for I have seen the way past you.
I am the united one, I am the male: cover your head.
I am well: I am the great in power,
my eyes are given to me, and I am transfigured.
What is this, going on its belly, your strength at your mountain?
Look at me, I have gone against you; your strength is with me.
I am the one who raises strength. I have come and taken the earth gods for Ra.
I have rested in the evening, at the circling of this sky.
You are in your chains.
This is the order for you from the beginnings.

Chapter 149e (Mound 5)
i.iAt twy nt Axw iwtt swA.n.Tw Hr.s
iw Axw im.s m mH 6 m xpdw.sn
anx.sn m Swt nnyw
i.iAt twy nt Axw wn n.i wAt.Tn r swAt.i Hr.Tn
xp.i r imntt nfrt wDt.f pw in wsir Ax nb Axw
anx.i m Axw.i ink ir Abd mtnyt nbt
iw dbn.n.i irt Hr Xrt a.i m Smsw DHwty
ir nTr nb mwt nb nsb.ty.fy r.f xft.i m hrw pn
xr.f n mDt

O this mound of spirits over whom it is not possible to pass
There are spirits in it 6 cubits broad at their buttocks.
They live on the shadows of the weary ones.
O this mound of spirits, open your way for me so that I may pass by you,
and walk to the beautiful west, as is commanded by Osiris the spirit, lord of spirits.
I live by my powers. I am the one who celebrates for the month feast and every half-month feast
I have circled the Eye of Horus that is under my hand in the following of Thoth.
As for any god or any dead one who would lick off his formula before me on this day,
let him fall to the depths.

Chapter 149f (Mound 6)

i.imHt twy Dsrt nTrw StAt r Axw qsnt r nTrw
imy.s sxr-ad rn.f
i.nD Hr.t imHt twy
ii.n.i r mA nTrw imyw.t
wn Hr.Tn kfA afnt.Tn m xsfw.i
ii.n.i r irt pqw.Tn
n sxm sxr-ad im.i
nn iwt xAyw m-sA.i nn iwt DAyw m-sA.i
anx.i m Htpwt im.Tn

O this cavern that separates the gods, too secret for the spirits, too difficult for the gods,
the one in it is called feller of the cat-fish.
Hail, this cavern,
I have come to see the gods who are in you.
Open your faces, unwind your headcloths at my approach.
I have come to make your offering-loaves.
The feller of the cat-fish has no power over me,
the disease-demons shall not come after me, the fiends shall not come after me.
I live on the offerings with you.

Chapter 149g (Mound 7)

i.iss pwy Hr r mAA
iw hh.f m sDt
iw HfAw im.f rrk rn.f
ny-sw mH 7 m Aw n psd.f
anx.f m Axw Htm m Axw.sn
HA.k rrk imy iss pn
psH m r.f gbA m irty.fy
sd ibHw.k bdS mtwt.k
n ii.k r.i n hAb mtwt.k im.i
sDr Smmt.k m tA
spty.ky m bAbA
xr kA.f n DHs Ts pXr
xw.kwi Hsq tp.k in mAfdt


O this realm of Ises, too distant to be seen,
whose flame is of fire.
There is a serpent in it called Rerek,
7 cubits in the length of its back.
He lives on the spirits, and devours their powers.
Back Rerek, the one in this realm of Ises,
who bites with his mouth and blinds with his eyes.
Your teeth are broken, your poison is weakened.
You cannot come against me, your poison cannot fall in me.
Fall and lie with your fevers in the earth,
Your lips in the hole.
May his double-spirit (ka) fall to the serpent, and vice versa.
I am protected; your head is severed by Mafdet.


Chapter 149h (Mound 8)

i.hAt-Htpt twy aAt nwt
iwtt sxm.tw m mw.s
wr n snDw.sn qA n hmhmt.s
iw nTr im.s hA-Htp rn.f
ntf sA sy n mrwt tm tkn im.s
ink nwr pwy Hry wart n Dr.s
iw in.n.i xt tA itm
nw wsxd rnpt iw rdi nrw.i n Hryw xm
iw rdi.n SfSft.i n nbw xt
nn iT.tw.i r nmt
n Htm mrwt.sn im.i
ink sSm Axt mHtt

O this area Descent of Offerings, great in waves,
over whose waters there is no control,
so great is the fear of them, so loud her roaring.
There is a god in it called Descent of Offerings.
He is the one who guards it, so none can approach it.
I am this nwr-bird who is over the district 'Limitless'.
I have brought the products of the earth of Atum.
O wealthy of years, terror of me is given to those over the shrines,
respect of me is given to the lords of offerings.
I cannot be taken to the slaughter-block,
their desire has not been sated with me.
I am the guide of the northern horizon.


Chapter 149i (Mound 9)
i.iksy twy StAt r nTrw snd n.s Axw rx rn.s
iwtt prt aqyw r.s wpw-Hr nTr pwy Spsy
dd snd.f n nTrw Hryt.f n Axw
iw wn.s m sDt iw TAw Htmw r Srwt rw
ir.n.f st r imyw-xt.f n mrt tm.sn ssnt TAw.f
wpw-Hr nTr pwy Spsy imy swHt.f
ii.n.i xr.k r wnn m Sms.k
pr.i aq.i m iksy wn.tw n.i aAw.s
ssn.i TAw im.s sxm.i m Htpwt.s

O this Ikesy, too secret for the gods, whose name the spirits fear to know,
which those that enter cannot leave except for this noble god,
who causes fear of him for the gods and terror of him for the spirits.
It is a flame with the air of destruction for nostrils and mouths.
He did it against his following, to prevent them breathing his air,
except for this noble god who is in his egg.
I have come before you to be in your following.
I come and go in Ikesy, and is doors are opened for me.
I breathe the air in it, and have power over its offerings.


Chapter 149k (Mound 10)
i.niwt twy nt qAHw iTt Axw sxmt m Swt
wnmyw wAD Hna nmnmyw HwAw
Hr mAt irty.sn iwty sp iryw.sn r tA
di m-a.Tn Hr Xt.Tn r swAt.i Hr.Tn
nn iT.tw Axw.i nn sxm.tw m Swt.i
ink bik nTry
kAp.tw n.i snTr Hsq.tw n.i wdnt
ist tp Hr.i nbtHwt HA.i
Dsr.tw n.i wAt naw kA nwt nHb-kAw
ii.n.i xr.Tn nTrw ipw
nHm.Tn wi di.Tn n.i Axw.i n Dt

O this city of (the god) Qahu, which seizes spirits and has power over shadows,
you who eat fresh meat and you who pass over decomposed meat,
for your eyes have seen that their kee[ers are not left on earth.
Place yourselves (?) on your bellies until I have passed by you.
My powers cannot be seized, my shadow cannot be overpowered.
I am the divine falcon.
Incense is burned for me, an offering is cut for me,
Isis is at my face, Nephthys is behind me.
The road of the naw-serpent, bull of Nut, Nehebkau, is cleared for me.
I have come before you, O these gods,
so that you may rescue me and give me my powers for eternity.

Chapter 149l (Mound 11)
i.niwt twy imt Xrt-nTr HApt Xt sxmt m Axw
iwtt prt aqyw r.s m snd n wbA ntt im.s
mAA st nTrw im.f m biA
mAA st mwtw im.f m Sat.f
wp-Hr nTrw wnnyw im.f m sStA.f r Axw
i.idw pwy di.k swA.i
ink wr HkAw mds pr m swty
rdwy.i n.i Dt xa.kwi wsr.kwi m irt Twy nt Hr
Tst ib.i m-xt bAg Ax m pt wsr m tA
pA.n.i m bik ngg.n.i m smn
rdi.n.i sxn Hr wart Twy nt S
aHa.i Hr.s Hms.i Hr.s
xa.n.i m nTr wnm.n.i m DfAw sxt Htp
hA.kwi r idb skw
iw wn.n.i aA mAat sn.n.i aA qbHw
Ts.i mAqt r pt m-m nTrw ink wa im.sn
mdw.n.i m smn r sDmt nTrw xrw.i
wHm.i n spdt

O this city that is in the underworld, veiling the body, with power over the spirits,
from which those that enter it cannot go out, for fear of revealing what is in it.
The gods see it in him (?) as a miracle,
the damned see it in him (?) as his slaughter,
apart from the gods who are in it as its secret against the spirits.
O this city of Idu, let me pass by,
for I am great in power, the sharp one who came from Seth,
My legs are mine forever, I am arisen, I am mighty in this eye of Horus
that raises my heart after weariness, a spirit in the sky, mighty on earth.
I have flown up as a falcon, I have cackled as a goose,
I am given a place to alight on this district of the lake.
I stand on it, I sit on it.
I have risen as a god, and I have eaten from the food of the Field of Offerings
after going down to the shore of the dying stars.
I have opened the doors of Right, I have crossed the doors of the firmament.
I raise a ladder to the sky among the gods, for I am one of them.
I have spoken as a goose until the gods heard my cry.
I report to Sepdet.


Chapter 149m (Mound 12)
i.iAt Twy nt wnt xntt r-sTAw iw hh.s m sDt
n ar.n n.s nTrw n smA.n Axw im.s
iw arawt Hr.s Htm rn.sn
i.iAt Twy nt wnt iw.i m wr imy Axw im.t
iw.i m ixmw-sk im.t
nn sk.i nn sk rn.i
i. sty nTr in.sn nTrw imyw iAt wnt
mry.Tn wi r nTrw.Tn
wnn.i Hna.Tn n Dt

O this mound of Wenet foremost of Resetjau whose flame is of fire
The gods do not ascend to it, the spirits do not join it,
Cobras are upon it called Destroyer
O this mound of Wenet, I am the great one among the spirits that are in you.
I am among the Imperishable Stars that are in you.
I shall not perish, my name shall not perish.
O scent of the god, say the gods who are in the mound of Wenet.
You love me more than your gods,
I shall be with you for eternity.


Chapter 149n (Mound 13)

i.iAt Twy nt Axw iwtt sxmyw im.s
iw mw.s m xt iw wAw.s m xt iw hh.s m Axt nbst
n mrwt tm swri mw.s r axm ibt.sn m ntt im.sn
n wr n snD.s n qA n SfSft.s
mAA nTrw Axw mw.s m wAw
n axm n ibt.sn n Htp n ib.sn
n mrwt tm tkn im.sn
mHt itrw Axy mi nAyt m rwDw pr m wsir
sxm.i m mw swri.i m nwy mi nTr pwy imy iAt nt mw
ntf sAA sy m snD nTrw swri mw.s m sHr.s r Axw
i.nD Hr.k nTr pwy imy iAt nt mw
ii.n.i xr.k di.k sxm.i m mw swri.i m nwy
mi irt.n.k n nTr pwy aA
ii.n n.f Hap xpr.n n.f smw rwd.n n.f wADw
dd mitt n nTrw m prw.f Htp
di.k iwt n.i Hap sxm.i m wADw
ink sA.k n Dt.k n Dt

O this mound of spirits over which none have power,
whose water is fire, whose waves are fire, whose flame is a consuming furnace,
so that none may drink its water to quench their thirst with what is in them,
so great is the fear of her, so raised her dignity.
Gods and spirits see her water from afar,
no quenching of their thirst, no peace for their hearts,
so that none approaches them,
with the filling of the river with marshes like waves with the fluid coming from Osiris.
I have power over water, I drink from the waves, like this god who is in the mound of water.
He is the one who guards it with the fear of the gods, who drinks its water distancing the spirits.
Hail this god who is in the mound of water,
I have come to you so you may cause me to have power over water and drink from waves,
as you did for this great god
to whom the Flood comes, for whom crops come to be, for whom plants grow,
who give the like to the gods in his processions in peace.
Send me the Flood so that I may have power over plants.
I am your son of your body, forever.

Chapter 149o (Mound 14)

i.iAt Twy nt Xr-aHA xsft Hap Hr ddw
ddt iwt Hap xAw rdi m HqAt sSmt sw n r wnm
ddt Htpw-nTr n nTrw prt r xrw n Axw
iw HfAw pn n.s-imy m qrty Abw r r Hap
ii.f Hna mw aHa.f r wart twy nt Xr-aHA r DADAt tpt nwy
r mAA.f m wnwt.f nt sgr xAwy
nTrw Xr-aHA DADAt tpt nwy
wn n.i mrwt.Tn sn n.i Hnwt.Tn
sxm.i m mw Htp.i m nwy wnm.i npri Htp.i m DfAw.Tn
Ts wi aA ib.i twt nTr imy Xr-aHA
ir.tw n.i Htpt.Tn
Htm.kwi m rwDw pr m wsir
n sfx.i im.f Dt

O this mound of Kheraha, keeping the Flood from Djedu,
sending the Flood measured and placed in bushels, guiding it to the mouth of the eater,
giving divine offerings to the gods and voice offerings to the spirits.
This serpent that belongs to it is in the double cavern of Abu at the mouth of the Flood.
It comes with water, and stands at this district of Kheraha at this first council of the waves
until it sees in its hour of silence of the night.
O gods of Kheraha, of this first council of waves,
open to me your bound land, reveal to me your canals.
I have power over water, I rest in the waves, I eat grain, I rest with your provisions.
Raise me, so that my heart may be great like the god that is in Kheraha.
Make your offerings for me,
provisioned with the fluid coming from Osiris.
I cannot be untied from him forever.

Closing note at end of chapter 149

iw.s pw m Htp

This is its end in peace.



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