Saturday, December 19, 2015

An Odd Dynasty Twelve Stela

     One of the more unusual objects in the Met's Middle Kingdom special exhibit is this stela of the butler Senebef. The open work ankh in the center may have been designed to allow the scent of incense from the "nearby temple of Osiris"  filter through to the deceased as the inscription describes (Oppenheim, Adela. Ancient Egypt Transformed, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015, p. 268).

Open work carving such as this ankh is unusual in Egyptian art in any time period, and only a very few other stelae with an open work ankh are known. There is one other such object in this exhibit and I will talk about it in the next post.

     The three mumiform figures are of Senebef, his mother and a man named Ipta (Senebef's father?). The two men clutch the fringed end of their shroud, a pose which occurs in numerous other statues and stelae from this period. The hieroglyphs on this steal are carved rather crudely, as are the faces and figures of the three persons shown.

     The provenance of this object is uncertain, but the reference to the "nearby temple of Osiris" suggests that it was found at Abydos.  It is now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

Copyright (c) 2015 by John Freed

1 comment:

  1. Does anyone know who retrieved the Stella and who sold it to the museum ??