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Work Large statue of Chancellor Nakhti
Department of Egyptian Antiquities: Religious and funerary beliefs
Le chancelier Nakhti
© Musée du Louvre/C. Décamps
Religious and funerary beliefs
The sculptor worked with a single trunk of high-grade acacia to create this life-size statue of Nakhti. An inscription written around the base consists of hieroglyphs indicating the high-ranking status of the figure, recognized in the world of the dead and the living.
Tomb n 7
When French archeologists explored the necropolis of Assiut in Middle Egypt in 1903, they unearthed twenty-six tombs, twenty-one of which had escaped pillagers for nearly four millennia. The tomb they named n 7 is Chancellor Nakhti's tomb, whose offering chapel and four burial chambers provided the largest cache of funerary furniture and equipment on the site, both in terms of quantity and quality. The finds were divided between the Cairo Museum and the Louvre Museum.
Two alcoves were dug in the stone of the chapel's north and west walls. They held two wooden statues designed for Nakhti's funerary cult. Alongside them were accessories and models designed to perpetuate the offerings that had to be provided for eternity.
This statue is the larger of the two. The statuette of a nude woman, named Henen, was placed on its base.
A strong presence
Nakhti is standing upright, his left leg forward and his arms hanging straight at his sides. His left hand is clenched in a fist, his thumb outstretched. The fingers of his right hand, which are overly long, hold the edge of his loincloth.
His starched linen loincloth is held in place by a belt; the slight thickness of this belt is just visible around the waist and kidneys.
His thin silhouette is offset by more powerful shoulders, accentuated by the collarbone.
Nakhti's face has lost the original expression of humanity the craftsman had intended, as a thin layer of colored stucco was added of the carving. Traces of this stucco are still visible near the inlays for the left eye, the forehead and the ears.
His short hair and eyebrows were accentuated by a slight relief, highlighted with black; most of this color has faded away.
A single piece of acacia
This statue was carved from a single piece of acacia; this wood is light and the craftsman could therefore eliminate the back pillar, which is essential for the stability of stone statues. Note the meticulous carving on the back: the depression of the backbone, the slight swelling of the shoulder blades, and the subtle shaping of the buttocks under the thickness of the loincloth.
The vertical stability is maintained by tenons under the feet of the statue joined to the mortice in the base, also made of acacia, along with a few wedges for additional solidity.
BibliographyE. DELANGE (Feuillet, Louvre, 2-02, "la tombe de Nakhti)
ANDREU ET RUTSCHOWSKAYA ET ZIEGLER (L'EGYPTE ANCIENNE AU LOUVRE, 1997, P. 82 A 83, 252, NOTICE 29)
DELANGE (CATALOGUE DES STATUES EGYPTIENNES DU MOYEN EMPIRE, 1987, P. 151)
ZIEGLER ET BOVOT (L'EGYPTE ANCIENNE, 2001, manuel de l'Ecole du Louvre, P. 142, 143, FIG. 55)
Le chancelier Nakhti
vers 1900 avant J.-C. (début 12e dynastie)
trouvé dans sa tombe à Assiout
H. : 1,78 m. ; L. : 0,49 m. ; Pr. : 1,10 m.
The Middle Kingdom, c. 2033–1710 BC
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