Funerary Art

Funerary art is the cross cultural term applied to a wide variety of artistic forms used in association with rituals connected to the dead and the journey towards the afterlife. Due to its placement in tombs, funerary art is also somewhat the best-preserved category of ancient objects recovered, due to the sheltered conditions it was put in. Though funerary art may describe external works, in this context the term mostly refers to objects placed within the tombs. Funerary art may commonly have the purpose of supporting the funerary celebration of ritually enacting the departure from the world of the living, yet what is perhaps more common is the use of artefacts to aid the dead in the afterlife. In prehistoric Europe, the Beaker Culture is so named due to the placement of empty beakers, commonly made of gold or pottery, by the dead, possibly along with other secondary items. In Ancient Egypt, great emphasis and care in craft was placed in funerary art. Along with many other artefacts, Ancient Egyptian funerary art comprises Shabti figures which would act as servants in the afterlife and funerary scarabs which were commonly inscribed with texts that would aid and instruct the dead in the afterlife. In China, from the Han to Ming dynasties, many extremely fine examples of funerary art can be seen in ceramic tomb figures, either painted or glazed, which were furthermore placed in the tomb of the deceased in order to aid them in the afterlife.