Tử thư Ai Cập được trưng bày ở Bảo tàng Getty

In the mid-19th century, a British antiquarian (nhà sưu tầm đồ cổ) named Sir Thomas Phillipps announced his intention of owning one copy of every book in the world. A professed “vello-maniac,” Mr. Phillipps, a quarrelsome (dễ cáu, hay gây gổ, hay sinh sự) baronet, bought manuscripts (bản thảo) indiscriminately (bừa bãi) from booksellers with whom he engaged in ceaseless battle. Soon there was hardly room in his moldering Cotswolds mansion for his second wife, Elizabeth, who eventually moved to a boardinghouse in Torquay, an English working-class seaside resort. By the time Mr. Phillipps died in 1872, he had amassed an unparalleled collection of 60,000 documents and 50,000 printed books.

His descendants (con cháu, hậu duệ) auctioned off his private library bit by bit, and by the late 1970s his collection of 19 ancient funerary (tang lễ) scroll (cuộn) fragments — each a part of what is today collectively known as the Egyptian Book of the Dead — was acquired by the New York book dealer Hans P. Kraus. Together with his wife, Hanni, Mr. Kraus donated the lot to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles in 1983. For the last four decades, the writings, which span a period from around 1450 B.C. to 100 B.C., have been stowed in a vault (cất trong hầm), fragile and easily damaged by light (dễ vỡ và dễ bị hư hỏng bởi ánh sáng). On Nov. 1, an exhibition at the Getty will present seven of the most representative pieces to the public for the first time. The show will run until Jan. 29.

...A standard component in Egyptian elite burials, the Book of the Dead was not a book in the modern sense of the term but a compendium (bản tóm tắt) of some 200 ritual spells (phép thuật, câu thần chú) and prayers, with instructions on how the deceased’s spirit should recite them in the hereafter.

...Despite the book’s title, it was life rather than the afterlife that preoccupied ancient Egyptians, who lived for 35 years on average. “Your happiness weighs more happily than the life to come,” reads one inscription (dòng chữ khắc) from the New Kingdom period, which lasted from 1550 B.C. to 1069 B.C.

source: nytimes,

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