February 5, 2014

Hypocephalus and the Book of Abraham


In celebration of studying the Book of Abraham from the Pearl of Great Price this year, I decided to recreate and photograph a few of the hypocephali I have created recently and in the past. The hypocephalus comes from Egypt and is a disc-shaped object used during the burial process. The hypocephalus generally was made from stuccoed linen (though some were made from metal, wood, papyrus, and clay), then painted with various designs and patterns.

The disc-shaped object was placed under the head and was believed to help protect the dead by enveloping them in light as they transitioned from the mortal to immortal-life. There are around 100 examples of hypocephali today, each one unique in their own way (click here to view an excellent collection of hypocephali found throughout the world.).

In the early LDS church history, founder Joseph Smith purchased several mummies containing papyrus scrolls and a hypocephalus, today known as Facsimile #2 (click here for a video showing a display of some of the artifacts from the Book of Abraham).

Below are several photos of the recreated hypocephali that I have created over the years. I hope to be posting a video here in a few weeks, so check back if you would like to see it.

Hypocephalus 36188 (the original is on stucco, but I placed it on papyrus)
Recreation of the Book of Abraham hypocephalus on stucco-linen
Recreated hypocephalus 37909
Recreated hypocephalus 37909 (front side)
Recreated hypocephalus 37909 (back side showing linen)
Recreated hypocephalus 37909 (showing linen and stucco)
My first recreated hypocephalus, now framed with the other facsimiles