Saturday, November 29, 2014

Old Kingdom Family Statues

Figure 1 - Husband and Wife Statue from the Old Kingdom
     The examples of family statues that I have shown so far all date to the New Kingdom. This type of statue goes far back in time however, with many examples dating to the Old Kingdom on display in museums around the world. Some, like this one (a representation of Sabu and his wife Meritites), also show one or more of the children of the husband and wife.

     In Ancient Egypt, children were often represented as having a finger of one of their hands held to their lips and a long lock of hair represented on one side of their head (with the rest of the head being completely shaven). This cannot be seen here since the representation of the child (between the parents legs in Figure 2) has been broken away.

Figure 2 - feet of the couples child shown between the adults legs
     This statue has one interesting difference from other statues of this type. Notice the space between the couple is carved out and a gap exists between the adults. In almost all (if not all) of the statues I have seen of this type, the area between the adults would be an area of "blank" stone and would not have been carved out like this.

     Notice also the much simpler clothing worn in the Old Kingdom. Meritites wears a simple sheath dress and the "transparent" garment shown on the husband's shoulders in the New Kingdom is nowhere to be seen here. The kilt he wears here is also of a much simpler style than it would become later in Egyptian history.

Copyright (c) 2014 by John Freed

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Representations of Husband and Wife

     A few posts back I talked about dual statues of a husband (Sibe) and wife seated side by side. Representations of a husband and wife together are also common in tomb reliefs. The carving shown here is from the Egyptian Museum in Munich and bears close resemblance to the statue of Sibe shown in a post I did on October 11th.

     This carving is from Dynasty 18 and shows a man and his wife seated side by side. The wife is shown on a smaller scale than her husband, as is normal in Egyptian art. She wears the pleated linen dress common at this time and has a perfume cone on her head. She carries a lotus flower in her right hand and has her left arm wrapped around her spouse's back. All of this is pretty normal for this type of scene.

     The husband also wears a linen garment and wig exactly like those worn by Sibe. In this representation, the tomb owner is shown with his staff of authority rather than the folded handkerchief that Sibe clutches. The couple is shown here seated in front of an offering table piled high with offerings and capped with a lotus flower, which is also quite a common (even cliche) scene in New Kingdom tomb reliefs.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Egyptian Offering Ritual

     One of the most common objects to be found in any collection of Egyptian art are stelae with inscriptions on them that (if recited) will magically present offerings to the deceased. These stelae were usually set up in conspicuous places, such as in temples or in the offering chapels of tombs. The offering inscription itself is known from thousands of examples and this one is pretty standard. The inscription starts at the right and reads top to bottom from the right to the left:

Line 1: "An offering given by the King under Osiris Khenti-Amenti, Lord of Abydos"

Line 2: "May he give bread, beer, oxen and geese, alabaster and linen, everything good and pure (upon which) a god lives to the ka of"

Line 3: "Sobekhotep, born of Sit-Hathor"

The horizontal line of text at the very top of the stela says: "The one honored under the good god (the King)".

     The offering formal is not only found on stelae, but is also found on coffins (particularly along the top of the coffin's trough), statues and many other objects, especially those of a funerary nature.

Photo copyright (c) 2014 by John Freed