Despite Bonaparte’s Egypt Campaign was a military success, it was also a victory of the human spirit: the world rediscovered the Ancient Egypt. One of this military campaign results, The Rosetta Stone, permitted to Jean-François Champollion find the key to the hieroglyphic written and other was the publication of the first great work about the land of the pharaohs: Description de l’Égypte.
The great interest Ancient Egypt awoke in Europe come to Brazil brought by Dom Pedro I, the Emperor of Brazil in that days, and José Bonifácio, his Minister and Counsellor, who bought an Egyptian antiquities collection to Museu Real, in an auction, from an Italian merchant named Nicolau Fiengo (1826). By this way, he created the most ancient and, probably, important Egyptian collection in South America.
We do not know the exactly origin of this collection. We only know Fiengo brought it from Marseilles and he stated it was one of Giovanni Battista Belzoni’s works, a famous dealer who was dedicated into lucrative dealing of Egyptian objects which provided great museums and collections. Belzoni states this objects was found in his “excavations” in Karnak, the “Realm of Amun”, and in Teban necropole. This provenance will be confirmed because a great deal of the objects from this collection, bought by Emperor Dom Pedro I, have had belonged to Teban priests and officers.
The interest in Ancient Egypt continued, but stronger, into his son and successor, Dom Pedro II. The passion for oriental languages and philosophies lead Dom Pedro II to two voyages to Egypt. In his first voyage to Europe and Egypt (1871) Dom Pedro II met Emmanoel Rougé, Curator of Egyptian Collection - Louvre Museum. Brazillian Emperor, Dom Pedro II, asked for Mr. Rougé his publications.
In Egypt he met Auguste Mariette who, a few years before, had created the first Egyptian Antiquities Museum in Egypt, the Bulaq Museum, and his assistant Émile Brugsh, whose Emperor called “my friend”.
Dom Pedro II and his entourage visiting Giza with Mariette and Émile Brugsch.
Later, both, Mariette and Brugsh, were decorated with Ordem da Rosa (1874). In this voyage Dom Pedro II and Imperatrice Tereza Cristina visited São Pedro’s Church when they went to Alexandria. This church was built next Consulate General of Brazil in substitution to the Consular Chapel of the Empire of Brazil, consecrated by the Patriarch of Antióquia, Alexandria, Jerusalem and the whole East. This Chapel showed up until 1957 the imperial coat of arms when it was substituted, in its lateral facade, by Brazillian Republic's shield.
When Dom Pedro II went back to Egypt, into to his second voyage (1876), he returns to the Bulaq Museum in companion of Mariette, before the great flood of the Nile (1878) that destroyed numerous objects of the Museum. The Emperor embarked in a voyage, by the steam-boat Feruz, going up the Nile. This voyage resulted two books of notes with meticulous observations of the monuments showing his knowledge of the history and the Egyptian language.
In some moments, inspired by the ruins, his notes are intermixed by poetic observations. Just when he was leaving the Temple of Karnak, taken by the admiration caused by the ruins, he going up the pilono to observe sunset in the other bank of the Nile and turned his thought to the “Creative God of Everything that is Beautiful” thinking about his “two homelands”, one of the heart and other of the knowledge, Brazil and France. The notes were made in French so that they could be examined by Mariette.
Dom Pedro II got ready for a third voyage to Egypt, but it was impeded because he was exiled, however, he never left his interest in East, mainly for Egypt. Few weeks before his death he had ordered to someone buy in Paris works that helped him to translate The Holy Bible and The Thousand and One Nights, and works about Egyptology that maintained him updated.
Because the Proclamation of the Republic the Museu Real became Museu Nacional (1892), located in the Quinta da Boa Vista Palace, where it stays until today. Nowadays it belongs to Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and the Egyptian Collection is under curatorial service of Department of Anthropology, Archaeology section.
The Museu Nacional Egyptian collection have more than five hundred objects, approximately half of them are exposed and the other half remaining kept in its store rooms. This collection have works of great artistic and archeological value as the beautiful III Intermediate Period and Late Period coffins of priests Hori, Pestjef and Harsiese. An important collection of stelae, most of them probably proceeding from Abidos, dating Middle and New Kingdoms. We can stand out the XIX Dynasty stelae of Raia and Haunefer that show titles of semitic origin present in The Holy Bible and in cuneiforms tablets from Mari, and the unfinished Roman Period stele attributed to Emperor Tibério. Equally interesting is a statuette in painted limestone that represents a young woman with an ointment cone over the head, one of rare examples known of this serie of sculpture, because these cones are almost known exclusively in paintings and reliefs and not in sculptures.
Alberto Childe (Dimitri Petrowitch Vanitzin, 1870-1950) was nominated Curator of the Museu Nacional in 1912 and, about twenty years, took care about the collection. He made the first work about this Egyptian objects. Between 1922 and 1932 he published specific articles about some objects in Publicações Avulsas do Museu Nacional.
In a series of conferences for South America, Jean Capart, obtained some pictures of the collection and now they are at Fondation Égyptologique Reine Élisabeth.
Hermann Ranke translated personal names from several stelae and published them in his Die Ägyptischen Personennamen (1935-52). Hermann Grapow translated, mainly the Middle Kingdon stele, and as collaborator of Adolf Erman published it in the great dictionary Wöterbuch der Ägyptischen Sprache (1926-31). Baudoin van de Walle published the stele of Sahi (XII-XIII Dynasties) in Revue d’Égyptologie (1963/3) and recently Alan R. Schulman published the fine low relief fragment of a votive chapel of Meriptah (XVIII Dynasty, Amenhotep III) in Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt (1963) and the stele of Bakenwer in Biblioteca Orientalis (1986/43). The only one sistematic study from Museu Nacional Egyptian collection was made by Kenneth A. Kitchen. Catálogo da Coleção do Egito Antigo existente no Museu Nacional, Rio de Janeiro.
Dom Pedro II received, in his second voyage to Egypt (1876), as a present from Quediva Ismail Pacha, Muhammad Ali grandson, a beautiful coffin incorporate to the collection of the Museu Nacional. Dom Pedro II kept this coffin at his cabinet as a decoration.
This magnificent XXIII Dynasty coffin, although its decoration will indicate XXII Dynasty: it is in wood, probably sycamore tree (Ficus sycomorus L.), plastered and its decoration painted in polycrome on a white ground. The coffin face is rosy, like natural skin, the blue painted wig is decorated with wings framing the face.
Sha-Amun-em-Su's coffin - upper part and resotred area.
Most of the decoration is green, yellow and red. Over the chest standing out a great falcon-head figure, and the traditionals funerary gods and the “fetish of Abydos”. The lower thorax has marks of a libation which probably flowed to its laterals indicating its horizontal position.
Sha-Amun-em-Su's coffin - libation marks.
The back of the coffin have a large Djed-pillar surmonted by plumes and a sun-disc. Two Ba-birds are perched on top of the Djed-pillar. The coffin still closed and the lacking feet-board allow us to observe the mummified body in it.
The mummy can be seen inside Sha-Amun-em-Su's coffin.
The few inscriptions identify the coffin as belonging to “Songstress of the Sanctuary of Amun” Sha-Amun-em-su (Inv.532). K. A. Kitchen proposed, Sha-Amun-em-su, can be the same person who adopted Merset-Amun, prince Osorkon’s daughter and pharaoh Takelot’s grand-daughter, as will be “Songstress of the Sanctuary of Amun”, in Karnak. Merset-Amun’s coffin is at Cairo Museum (CGC 41035). Nevertheless, this is a question will be still better studied.
According to a tradition this coffin, which was kept in vertical position at Dom Pedro II’s cabinet, during a storm a violent wind have forced open the window and damaged the lateral part of the coffin at the bottom thorax. Lately the coffin was restored, but unfortunately do not exist any information about when or who did the restoration and the decoration of the damaged parts, including Duamutef and Qebehsenuef’s figures, although this coffin’s damages do not confirm the history.
Nowadays exhibited in new Egyptian Room at Museu Nacional, the coffin of the “Songstress of Sanctuary of Amun” Sha-Amun-em-su is in more suitable conditions than several years before, but this coffin and other Egyptian objects from the collection, mainly mummies and other coffins, need an urgent restoration and clean process when more detailed studies about this collection would be done.
We have to take in consideration which this collection have some particularities. It is, with National Museum of Havana (Cuba), one of the only Egyptian Antiquities Collection in tropical climate, and require special attention. Only Brazil and Australia.
 F. M. Santos. “Aspectos da Primeira Viagem dos Imperadores do Brasil a Europa e Egito (1871-1872)”. Revista do Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro 188 (Rio de Janeiro, 1945), pp. 55-91.
 A. de E. Taunay. “D. Pedro II. Viagem ao Alto Nilo, em 1876”. Revista do Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro 72, (1912), part 2.
 A. Childe. Guia das Collecções de Archeologia Clássica do Museu Nacional do Rio de Janeiro. (Rio de Janeiro, Imprensa Nacional, 1919).
 S. Ikram and A. Dodson. The Mummy in Ancient Egypt Equipping the Dead for Eternity. (London, 1998), pp. 175-76.
 K. A. Kitchen had described them as two falcons. K. A. Kitchen. Catálogo da Coleção do Egito Antigo existente no Museu Nacional, (Rio de Janeiro/ Warminster, Aris & Phillips, 1988), 2 vols.
 K. A. Kitchen. Catálogo da Coleção do Egito Antigo, (Rio de Janeiro/ Warminster, 1988).
 Unfortunately the damages in this part of the coffin difficult verify if the names of these two Son of Horus was swapped, which occurs sometimes in XXII Dynasty coffins.
 About other Egyptian collections in Brazil: A. Brancaglion. “Les Collections Égyptiennes au Brésil” in E. Delange. Catálogo da Exposição Egito Faraônico Terra dos Deuses 27/09/2001 - 07/04/2002. (São Paulo/Rio de Janeiro, Takano, 2001), pp. 20-27.
Text adapted from:
BRANCAGLION JR, Antonio. "From Egypt To Brazil: An Egyptian Colletion In Rio de Janeiro". In: ELDAMATI, Mahmoud & TRAD, Mai (eds.). Egyptian Museum Collections Around the World. Studies for the Centennial of the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. Cairo: Supreme Council of Antiquities, 2002. pp. 155-162.