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Egyptian Middle Kingdom Wood Polychrome Boatman

Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 11th to 12th Dynasty, ca. 2030 to 1640 BCE. A sacred boatman figure, skillfully carved with the right leg advanced to indicate motion. Once carved, the figure was covered in a thin layer of gesso and painted in red, black, and white hues. This example still retains painted facial details (note the left eye) and a classic cap-styled coiffure. Archaeologists typically find two ships in almost all tombs that have models from the Middle Kingdom period, and those ships are usually staffed by boatmen like this one - created to be a servants in the afterlife, ready to row the deceased upon the eternal Nile, as actual boatmen would have done in real life. Size: 6.5" H (16.5 cm); 7.5" H (19 cm) on included custom stand.

During the Sixth Dynasty, it became common to place wooden models of lifelike scenes in Egyptian tombs; by the Middle Kingdom, they were placed in the tomb chamber, around the coffin, although some very lavish tombs had a separate chamber just for wooden models. Funerary boat models were created to assist in the deceased's journey through the underworld, and the most well-known models came from Meketre's tomb, more than half of which were funerary boats.

Condition: Missing arms, most of right leg, and lower section of left leg. Legs reattached to torso at the waist/hips with some loss to break line. Surface wear with losses to pigmented gesso as shown. Inventory number written in black on back of kilt.

Provenance: ex-private Los Angeles, California, USA collection

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