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Work Statue of Karomama, the Divine Adoratrice of Amun

Department of Egyptian Antiquities: The final Pharaonic dynasties and the Ptolemaic period (circa 1069 - 30 BC)

Statue of Karomama, the Divine Adoratrice of Amun

© Musée du Louvre/G. Poncet

Egyptian Antiquities
The final Pharaonic dynasties and the Ptolemaic period (circa 1069 - 30 BC)

Author(s):
Delange Élisabeth

Karomama is depicted in a walking pose, shaking sistrums (now missing). She was a Divine Adoratrice, a virgin and earthly spouse of the god Amun, who was worshiped at Karnak. She held the status of a queen, and is portrayed in a robe encircled by vulture wings. A tall crown once fitted into the round headdress adorned with a uraeus. Champollion was responsible for purchasing this exceptional bronze object with multiple inlays.

A closer look

Karomama is barefoot, walking forward on the base, her arms outstretched to shake the sistrums. She is clad in a close-fitting, pleated dress with wide sleeves. It reaches to mid-calf and is encircled by the feathered wings of a vulture, which wrap around her thighs. A short wig frame her face. The coiled uraeus emerges from the modius, a small cap that originally held a crown. A lavish, jeweled collar extends from the top of her shoulders to her bust.
The slender proportions of the figure embody a charming femininity. The face, however, has a severe expression, with inlaid eyes, aquiline noise, and small, delicately shaped mouth. This work represents Karomama in her role as Divine Adoratrice.

Divine Adoratrice

The inscriptions on the base identify the figure: "beloved of Amun-Ra, she is the divine spouse, the Divine Adoratrice." Her life was devoted entirely to the god, and she performed the religious rites in the Temple of Karnak, rattling the sistrums to please and pacify Amun. She ruled as a sovereign in her own right and wore the royal insignia; her names were enclosed in cartouches. She was honored during major festivals, when an effigy was displayed on the model bark alongside a statue of Amun. Karomama's chamberlain commissioned this masterpiece, of which he was very proud, as indicated by the inscriptions.

Masterful techniques

This statue of Karomama is famous for the sophisticated production technique used. The statue was created with the lost-wax bronze casting process and features complicated metal inlays. These created colorful effects, although some are now missing. Gold leaf was also used to highlight different sections of the body, such as the wig with finely incised curls. A magnificent eight-tiered collar remains; it includes alternating rows of geometric and plant designs: rosettes, lotus petals, checkerboards, and spirals. The alloys used for the different inlays created nuances and various surface patina, which are no longer visible, given the condition of the work.

Bibliography

- DELANGE E., Karomama, divine adoratrice d’Amon, revue Techné, tome 18, mars 2004.

- ZIEGLER Ch. , BOVOT J.-L. , Art et archéologie : L’Egypte ancienne,  Ecole du Louvre/RMN/Documentation française, Paris,  2001, p. 250-250, fig. 151.

- ANDREU G.,  RUTSCHOWSCAYA M- H., ZIEGLER Ch., L’Egypte au Louvre, Hachette, Paris, 1997, p. 176-178, notice 86.

- CENIVAL J.-L. (de), Karomama, feuillet de visite, département des Antiquités égyptiennes n° 20, Paris, 1992.

Tanis, l’or des Pharaons, Catalogue de l’exposition, Paris, RMN, 1987, p. 177-180, notice n° 48

Technical description

  • Statue of Karomama, the Divine Adoratrice of Amun

    Third Intermediate Period, 22nd Dynasty, 945-715 BC

  • Lost-wax bronze casting, inlay, various copper alloys, gold, and silver

    H.: 59.5 cm; W.: 35 cm; D.:12.5 cm

  • Purchased 1829

    N 500

  • Egyptian Antiquities

    Sully wing
    1st floor
    From the year 1000 to the first Persian conquest, c. 1069–404 BC
    Room 29

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