ART FROM ANCIENT LANDS

Egyptian Painted Limestone Wall Relief - X.0358
Origin: Egypt
Circa: 2100 BC to 1750 BC
Dimensions: 21.25" (54.0cm) high x 10.25" (26.0cm) wide
Collection: Egyptian
Style: Middle Kingdom
Medium: Painted Limestone


This brightly painted, well-preserved relief came from the upper right hand corner of a wall of a tomb, as is indicated by the rectangular motifs within the framing elements at the top and right hand-side. The figural decoration consists of two registers with the ground line upon which the upper figure stands serving as a divider. That figure is depicted bare-chested and bare-footed wearing a belted kilt woven of white linen, a full wig, and a bandoleer arranged transversally across his chest. He is sporting a goatee and holds a papyrus scroll in his lowered hand. The column of hieroglyphs in the field to the left contains his title and name. He is Senwesret, the lector priest. The lector priest, whose insignia include the bandoleer, is the individual charged with reading the sacred spells and prayers, symbolically contained within the papyrus he holds in his hand, on behalf of the deceased. There are traces of a column of hieroglyphs to the left of the caption identifying Senwesret, but these are is too fragmentary to provide a comprehensible translation. The lower register contains a representation of a second individual who is likewise clad in a white, belted linen kilt and wears a similar wig. He is clean shaven and does not wear a bandoleer. The hieroglyphs to his left identify him as, Ptah-hotep, the overseer. He is shown presenting two fowl, perhaps to be identified as geese, to the deceased, one of which he holds by the head. This is an accomplished work of art to judge from the quality of the wafer-thin relief style and the degree of paint still preserved. The lector priest, Senwesret, is a constant reminder of the role of learned priests within Egyptian society. His name may also be rendered into Greek as Sesostris, which is the name by which several famous pharaohs of Dynasty XII are known. References: For similar, contemporary relief representations, see, J. Bourriau, Pharaohs and Mortals. Egyptian Art in the Middle Kingdom (Cambridge 1988), catalogue numbers 36 and 39. - (X.0358)


 

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