Monday, January 23, 2017

Dynasty Thirteen Group Statue

     As the Middle Kingdom wound down and the Second Intermediate Period began, group statues like the one illustrated here became more common. This group is of a nobleman named Senpu and his family. They are shown standing in front of an altar which they hoped would have offerings placed on it in their memory. Senpu is the cloaked figure in the center, and he is surrounded by his mother, two brothers and another woman (his grandmother?).

     The garments of the men are are good examples of some that I have mentioned in the last few posts. Senpu wears a cloak that he holds together with his right hand, while his brothers wear long "kilts" that are tied at the waist (you can see the knot sticking out above the top of the kilts).

     The women are dressed in fairly traditional sheath dresses that come up to just below the breasts. The breast are covered by straps that go over each shoulder.

     This statue is now in the Louvre in Paris and was originally found at Abydos.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

More Middle Kingdom Statues

     There are some other garment styles on the statues of Middle Kingdom nobility than the one shown in the previous post. Figure 1 shows a mid to late Dynasty 12 statue of a man wearing an almost all-covering shawl. You can see the edging of the shawl below the chin of the man and notice how his right hand is almost covered by the garment (it almost seems as if the right hand is holding the two sides of the shawl closed around him). Statues wearing such shawls continue on into the Second Intermediate Period.

     Figure 2, also from Dynasty 12, shows a man names Nemithotep seated and wearing a shawl like the one in figure 1. This statue also shows the nobleman wearing a wig with the pointed lapets mentioned in the previous post.

     Finally there is the seated scribe  statue (figure 3) of the Dynasty 13 high steward Gebu. This statue shows yet another commonly worn garment of the period. This one covers Gebu from just below his breast, down over his abdomen and over his legs. If you look carefully at the top of the garment (on the left side of the photo) you can see some cloth showing above the tip of the garment. This is likely a representation of a knot that holds the garment in place. Gebu also wears a wig with pointed lapets.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

12th Dynasty Statue of Sehetepibreankh

Figure 1 - Sehetepibreankh, Met Museum
     Each major period of Egyptian history has distinctive features in its art work. In the statues of the nobility the clothes they wear are very different from period to period.

Figure 2 - Folded Cloth in the Right Hand
     The statue shown here shows a typical representation of a Middle Kingdom nobleman. In figure 1 we can see a statue of Sehetepibreankh (Sehetepibre is one of the names of the Pharaoh Amenemhat I, during whose reign this nobleman began his career, so his name means Amenemhat Lives). There are some details of the statue which are a holdover from the Old Kingdom. For instance, Sehetepibreankh holds in his right hand a folded cloth (figure 2) which is commonly shown in statues from the Old Kingdom (and would be shown in the statuary of the New Kingdom as well). The legs of the statue are also carved in a way that reminds me of Old Kingdom sculpture.
Figure 3 - Showing a common Middle Kingdom Wig
Figure 4 - Notice the Hair at the Bottom of the Wig's Lapets
     But the wig worn by this nobleman is quite different from that worn in the Old Kingdom. Note how the lapets slant down to a point (figure 3). This is common in the statuary of Dynasties Twelve and Thirteen. Also, look at the lapels closely in figure 4. I am not quite sure what is being represented here. It might be that a cloth is covering the actual wig (notice how the hair seems to stick out below the "cloth" at the bottom of the wig's lapets and on the owner's forehead). Or is the hair arranged differently at the bottom of the lapets than it is in the rest of the wig and there is no cloth being shown over the wig at all?

Copyright (c) 2017 by John Freed

Monday, January 2, 2017

Somethings Never Change

     Many years ago I was in Egypt for the second time. I had learned enough on the first trip to be confident that I could get around without a tour group the second time. So I decided to take the bus from Midan Tahrir (just outside the Cairo Museum) to the Great Pyramid. I waited patiently for the bus. When it arrived everyone else who was waiting for it pushed their way on at the same time as everyone on the bus was pushing their way off. Not wanting to be the bad American tourist, I decided to wait until the dust settled and then politely board the bus. Needless to say the door to the bus closed in my face and I settled down for the long wait for the next one. Guess who led the pushing when the next bus arrived? Yes, it was the bad American tourist.

     As the bus rolled along the road to Giza the local kids were jumping up and grabbing a hold onto the side of the bus to ride for free. There were dozens of kids (and a few adults) hanging onto the outside of the bus this way. As I stood on the bus I had this vision of a Volvo getting too close to the bus with tragic results. Fortunately that did not happen.

     After  a short time I was able to start taking in the scene around me. Taking public transportation when you visit another country is a good way to learn a little about the lives of the locals. There were folks holding baskets of something or other, others excitedly talking, etc. There was also a woman who was holding two geese by the wings. The geese were, not surprisingly, honking and flapping around covering the bus (and me) in their feathers.

     This reminded me of the many scenes carved on tomb and temple walls by the ancient Egyptians, where a servant brings live geese to the tomb owner by holding the birds by their wings. Figure 1 shows a representation of such a scene. This piece is from the pyramid complex of Amenemhat I at Lisht and is now in the Brooklyn Museum. It clearly shows that somethings never change. At least some of the modern Egyptians do the same things their ancestors did thousands of years ago.