Sunday, September 7, 2014

Old Kingdom Wood Statues

Figure 1 - Male Wooden Statue from the Old Kingdom
     Wood statues of noblemen and / or their wives and children are found in many collections of Egyptian art. These two statues are not all that beautiful artistically, are not all that well carved and the paint has come off of them, which does take away from their attractiveness. But these two statues (both from the Egyptian Museum in Barcelona)
do show how the Egyptians created these particular objects.

Figure 2 - Old Kingdom Female Wood Statue
Figure 3 - Statue from the Tomb of Meketre
     The statues were carved from several pieces of wood which were joined together. Normally the arms of the statue are carved separately from the torso, and both of these examples follow that rule. On the male statue (figure 1) note that the left arm is bent at the elbow and that the upper arm and the lower arm are carved from separate pieces of wood. There is also a hole drilled in the right hand of the statue, indicating that it once held some sort of staff of authority. When this statue was completed, it would have been covered in a thin layer of plaster and then painted. This would have hidden the joints of the different pieces of wood.

     The female statue (figure 2) is very unremarkable and looks like it was carved for a patron who could not afford high end art work. The figure is very thin and seems almost "stretched". The plaster and paint that was originally put on this statue could only have partially hidden the fact that this is no great piece of art.

     In order to illustrate how a finished wooden statue would look after paint was applied, I have included a photo of one of the most famous works of art known from ancient Egypt, the wooden statue of a servant girl found in the early Middle Kingdom tomb of Meketre at Thebes (figure 3). This statue, which is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is remarkably well preserved with almost all of its paint still intact.

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