Friday, February 5, 2016

Meketre Servant Statue

     One of my favorite pieces of Egyptian art, a wooden statue of a servant girl, is from the tomb of Meketre. It was found at Dier el-Bahari near the temple of Queen Hatshepsut by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Meketre was a nobleman of the early Middle Kingdom and his tomb contained a large number of models of daily life that are now split between the Cairo Museum and the Met.

     The statue is carved from several pieces of wood. The head and body are one piece, while her two arms were carved separately and joined to the torso of the statue.   The feet of the statue are also carved separately and joined to the lady's body. Finally the statue is joined to a wooden base. After the various pieces were joined the wood was covered with gesso (plaster) and painted.

     The serving girl has a graceful set of curves carved into the wood. She wears a dress that has two (bead-work?) straps that go up over her shoulders while a beaded broad collar is shown around her neck. A nice touch that is not normally noticed by visitors to the Met is the duck she holds by its wings in her right hand. On my first trip to Egypt I took the bus from downtown Cairo to Giza, and there was a woman on the bus holding a live duck in the exact same way. The duck was less than pleased and there were feathers all over the bus. To me it was a memorable slice of real life.


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