Egyptian rock crystal bottle from an Opening of the Mouth set, Old Kingdom, Circa 2592-2118 BC
Rock crystal vessell with an elongated neck and finished in a cylindrical shape with an open mouth and an oval body whose lower part ends in a beak. The Hates vessel was part of a set of instruments that were necessary to perform the ceremonial opening of the mouth of the deceased. This ceremony would allow the deceased to have all the orifices of his body opened so that in the afterlife he could see, hear, smell, eat, etc.
For the Egyptians, the human being was composed of five elements: the body, the name, the shadow, the ka (vital energy) and the ba (personality). At death, these elements were separated and only through appropriate funeral rites were they reunited in the afterlife. First, it was necessary to preserve the mummified body. Then a funeral procession was carried out, the mummy was placed at the foot of the tomb and an important ritual was performed; that of the opening of the mouth. Very ancient, in the New Kingdom, this ritual consisted of up to 57 different steps.
The purpose of this ritual was to open all the orifices of the deceased that had been blocked by death and the embalming process. In this way the soul left the body to go to his trial in the afterlife, accompanied by Anubis, the psychopomp. This ritual was also necessary, because when the soul of the deceased had successfully passed the weighing of his soul, and avoided the heart-devouring monster, he could again breathe, see, eat, hear, defecate, fornicate in the real world. The ceremony of the opening of the mouth was performed by means of very specific instruments, among them this Hates vessel. Usually a small miniature set of these utensils was buried next to the deceased: a peshef-kef knife, two netjerwy blades, two Hates bottles (one white and one black) and four henet glasses (two white and two colored), which were encased in a stone or wooden base, carved with their profiles.