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The act of speaking a ritual formula was an act of creation;  there is a sense in which action and speech were one and the same thing.
Hieroglyphic script was held to have been invented by the god Thoth , and the hieroglyphs themselves were powerful. Written words conveyed the full force of a spell.
The spells of the Book of the Dead made use of several magical techniques which can also be seen in other areas of Egyptian life.
A number of spells are for magical amulets , which would protect the deceased from harm. In addition to being represented on a Book of the Dead papyrus, these spells appeared on amulets wound into the wrappings of a mummy.
Other items in direct contact with the body in the tomb, such as headrests, were also considered to have amuletic value. Almost every Book of the Dead was unique, containing a different mixture of spells drawn from the corpus of texts available.
For most of the history of the Book of the Dead there was no defined order or structure. The spells in the Book of the Dead depict Egyptian beliefs about the nature of death and the afterlife.
The Book of the Dead is a vital source of information about Egyptian beliefs in this area. One aspect of death was the disintegration of the various kheperu , or modes of existence.
Mummification served to preserve and transform the physical body into sah , an idealised form with divine aspects;  the Book of the Dead contained spells aimed at preserving the body of the deceased, which may have been recited during the process of mummification.
The ka , or life-force, remained in the tomb with the dead body, and required sustenance from offerings of food, water and incense. In case priests or relatives failed to provide these offerings, Spell ensured the ka was satisfied.
It was the ba , depicted as a human-headed bird, which could "go forth by day" from the tomb into the world; spells 61 and 89 acted to preserve it.
An akh was a blessed spirit with magical powers who would dwell among the gods. The nature of the afterlife which the dead person enjoyed is difficult to define, because of the differing traditions within Ancient Egyptian religion.
In the Book of the Dead , the dead were taken into the presence of the god Osiris , who was confined to the subterranean Duat.
There are also spells to enable the ba or akh of the dead to join Ra as he travelled the sky in his sun-barque, and help him fight off Apep.
There are fields, crops, oxen, people and waterways. The deceased person is shown encountering the Great Ennead , a group of gods, as well as his or her own parents.
While the depiction of the Field of Reeds is pleasant and plentiful, it is also clear that manual labour is required.
For this reason burials included a number of statuettes named shabti , or later ushebti. The path to the afterlife as laid out in the Book of the Dead was a difficult one.
The deceased was required to pass a series of gates, caverns and mounds guarded by supernatural creatures. Their names—for instance, "He who lives on snakes" or "He who dances in blood"—are equally grotesque.
These creatures had to be pacified by reciting the appropriate spells included in the Book of the Dead ; once pacified they posed no further threat, and could even extend their protection to the dead person.
If all the obstacles of the Duat could be negotiated, the deceased would be judged in the "Weighing of the Heart" ritual, depicted in Spell The deceased was led by the god Anubis into the presence of Osiris.
There, the dead person swore that he had not committed any sin from a list of 42 sins ,  reciting a text known as the "Negative Confession".
Maat was often represented by an ostrich feather, the hieroglyphic sign for her name. If the scales balanced, this meant the deceased had led a good life.
Anubis would take them to Osiris and they would find their place in the afterlife, becoming maa-kheru , meaning "vindicated" or "true of voice".
This scene is remarkable not only for its vividness but as one of the few parts of the Book of the Dead with any explicit moral content.
The judgment of the dead and the Negative Confession were a representation of the conventional moral code which governed Egyptian society.
For every "I have not John Taylor points out the wording of Spells 30B and suggests a pragmatic approach to morality; by preventing the heart from contradicting him with any inconvenient truths, it seems that the deceased could enter the afterlife even if their life had not been entirely pure.
A Book of the Dead papyrus was produced to order by scribes. They were commissioned by people in preparation for their own funeral, or by the relatives of someone recently deceased.
They were expensive items; one source gives the price of a Book of the Dead scroll as one deben of silver,  perhaps half the annual pay of a labourer.
In one case, a Book of the Dead was written on second-hand papyrus. Most owners of the Book of the Dead were evidently part of the social elite; they were initially reserved for the royal family, but later papyri are found in the tombs of scribes, priests and officials.
Towards the beginning of the history of the Book of the Dead , there are roughly 10 copies belonging to men for every one for a woman.
The dimensions of a Book of the Dead could vary widely; the longest is 40m long while some are as short as 1m. The scribes working on Book of the Dead papyri took more care over their work than those working on more mundane texts; care was taken to frame the text within margins, and to avoid writing on the joints between sheets.
Books were often prefabricated in funerary workshops, with spaces being left for the name of the deceased to be written in later.
The text of a New Kingdom Book of the Dead was typically written in cursive hieroglyphs , most often from left to right, but also sometimes from right to left.
The hieroglyphs were in columns, which were separated by black lines — a similar arrangement to that used when hieroglyphs were carved on tomb walls or monuments.
Illustrations were put in frames above, below, or between the columns of text. The largest illustrations took up a full page of papyrus. From the 21st Dynasty onward, more copies of the Book of the Dead are found in hieratic script.
The calligraphy is similar to that of other hieratic manuscripts of the New Kingdom; the text is written in horizontal lines across wide columns often the column size corresponds to the size of the papyrus sheets of which a scroll is made up.
Occasionally a hieratic Book of the Dead contains captions in hieroglyphic. The text of a Book of the Dead was written in both black and red ink, regardless of whether it was in hieroglyphic or hieratic script.
Most of the text was in black, with red ink used for the titles of spells, opening and closing sections of spells, the instructions to perform spells correctly in rituals, and also for the names of dangerous creatures such as the demon Apep.
The style and nature of the vignettes used to illustrate a Book of the Dead varies widely. Some contain lavish colour illustrations, even making use of gold leaf.
Others contain only line drawings, or one simple illustration at the opening. Book of the Dead papyri were often the work of several different scribes and artists whose work was literally pasted together.
The existence of the Book of the Dead was known as early as the Middle Ages, well before its contents could be understood.
In Karl Richard Lepsius published a translation of a manuscript dated to the Ptolemaic era and coined the name " Book of The Dead" das Todtenbuch.
He also introduced the spell numbering system which is still in use, identifying different spells. I hope my other library fills my requests for that Nov 29, Michelle rated it it was ok.
The constant reminder that the bird was dead felt like May 16, Jason rated it it was amazing Shelves: I am misty-eyed as I type. Seldom have I come across a book that treats death as the simultaneously sacred and mundane occurrence that it is, and with such powerful simple and straightforward text.
I love the frankness of this book as it deals with the dead bird and how the children encounter, experience, and honor it.
Touches on the natural world, on loss, on ritual. Dec 13, Booker rated it really liked it Shelves: I read this book for work. I believe it is out of print now, but it follows four children as they come across a dead bird.
They hold it and listen for a heartbeat, but realize it is dead. They decide to bury it, hold a funeral, sing to the bird, and mark the grave.
They return to place new flowers on the grave and sing to the dead bird until eventually, they resume play. I read an interview of Margaret Wise Brown in her alumni magazine and also learned about th I read this book for work.
I read an interview of Margaret Wise Brown in her alumni magazine and also learned about the illustrator who passed away in August of this year.
It was time well spent. Sep 24, Jon rated it really liked it Shelves: A picture book about four kids who find a dead bird and bury it.
Some might find it morbid. What a weird and wonderful picture book. Also excellent timing for this book to appear on our new book shelves, as I accidentally killed a baby bird yesterday and have spent the last 24 hours traumatized.
Also have concluded that Margaret Wise Brown books are basically what being on drugs must be like. Kind from my funeral school perspective but the kids need to wash their hands xD.
Odd from my library associate side. Jun 10, Shiloah rated it really liked it Shelves: Some books truly do stand the test of time, and this one, which tackles the tough topic of death with respect, honesty, and a slight touch of humor leavened with the awareness that time makes us forget things, even when it is a brush with death.
With stunning traditional media and Photoshop illustrations, this picture book breathes new life into a memorable classic, published originally in , if you can believe that.
Four children come across a dead bird on their way to play in the park. Like Some books truly do stand the test of time, and this one, which tackles the tough topic of death with respect, honesty, and a slight touch of humor leavened with the awareness that time makes us forget things, even when it is a brush with death.
Like most youngsters, they are curious and pick it up. As time passes, it grows colder and stiffer, and they know there is nothing they can do other than to bury it.
They even place a stone and flowers on its grave and then go about their business. There is simply something that breaks my heart in its truth in those closing words, though: These are thoughtful children, caring and compassionate, and they certainly mean well, but it intrigues me how they get caught up in the grief process and become quite emotional over a creature they never even knew, and then how quickly, they forget it all.
So many possibilities for classroom use with this book, including coping with loss, but also discussing the steps of the grieving process and how each of us deals with it differently, some taking comfort from rituals while others do not.
I consider it to be a marvelously honest look at how children regard death, which is often quite different from the reaction of adults. Jan 06, Tasha rated it it was amazing Shelves: This is a reillustrated edition of the classic picture book by Margaret Wise Brown.
In the story, a group of children find a dead bird in the park. They are very sorry the bird has died and decide to have a funeral for it.
So they dig a hole and fill it with sweet ferns and flowers. The sing a song and cry a bit too. Then they head off to play.
They do visit for awhile, bringing fresh flowers to the little grave, and they slowly stop remembering to This is a reillustrated edition of the classic picture book by Margaret Wise Brown.
They do visit for awhile, bringing fresh flowers to the little grave, and they slowly stop remembering to come. This is such an honest book about death and grief.
It captures that intense wave of sorrow upon finding a dead animal, the immediate connection children have to that creature and the importance of following through in a process of loss.
The writing is superb, capturing these complex feelings but also not endowing them with too much weight.
There is also a feeling of time passing and life moving on, even though the sadness was so large at first. One of the children wears butterfly or fairy wings as they play and another is in a fox mask and tail.
They have a large dog along with them and a kite to fly. The children have the friendly expressions of Fisher Price dolls, a curve of smile and dot eyes.
The illustrations show the same kind of frankness that marks the text as well. Appropriate for ages A diverse group of children stumble across a dead bird on their way to play in the park.
They know the bird is dead because it had no heart beat and it was cold and still. They were sorry it was dead and could never fly again.
Imitating grownups, they hold an impromptu funeral for the bird, wrapping in ferns for a shroud, singing a lament, placing a headstone, and planting flowers on its grave.
In the days that followed, they continued to visit the graveside until they forgot. This is a rather to A diverse group of children stumble across a dead bird on their way to play in the park.
This is a rather touching story. With The Dead Bird , Brown tackles the issue of death. This would be a good introduction to the concept especially if the reader is secular.
There is no mention -- either for or against -- of an afterlife. Rather death is a reality the children encounter, comprehend, and accept with sadness.
They mourn the loss of possibility accompanying the loss of life: I love how Robinson updated the work to make the children multicultural and the setting more modern.
But I particularly loved how he, and Brown, demonstrate the ways in which children accept death, mourning, and renewal. A valuable look at an important passage in childhood.
This book gets a 4 just for the title. I love how ahead of her time Margaret Wise Brown was in putting this book out.
She believed children should talk about difficult topics, and that books can help open the conversation. For death, Brown and Robinson displace the darkness of the topic by making it about a bird rather than a person, by having a group of kids do the action together, and by setting the book in a vibrant green springtime.
UNC has the version--I hope I can get my hands on a edition Dec 28, Nicole rated it it was amazing. I love the reillustrated version by Christian Robinson - the art is lovely.
I was really moved by the story. Picture books about death are hard to come by, and this is just perfect for opening up a conversation. A simple tale about death.
Often teaching children about this sometimes scary occurrence can be more approachable when dealing with an animal. The text is easy but direct and the pictures are dated but for me were familiar and soothing.
Such a book of childhood. Love this new edition with these illustrations. Children find a dead bird in the park and give it a funeral.
Originally published in , this is a newly illustrated edition with art by Christian Robinson. Nov 08, Jill rated it it was amazing Shelves: