Vessels used in purification rites are commonly found in ancient Egyptian tombs. As texts and vignettes indicate, the Egyptians believed that the deceased needed to be in a ritually pure state in order to move about in the hereafter.
This vessel is in the shape of the hieroglyph hes, which can mean either "a favored one," a common epithet for the dead, or "repulse" and "turn away." The vessel itself thus functioned magically to protect its owner. A number of similar vessels were found in the tomb of Tutankhamun.