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Work Stele of Lady Taperet
Department of Egyptian Antiquities: The final Pharaonic dynasties and the Ptolemaic period (circa 1069 - 30 BC)
Stele of Lady Taperet
© 2008 Musée du Louvre / Georges Poncet
The final Pharaonic dynasties and the Ptolemaic period (circa 1069 - 30 BC)
This small wooden stele is exceptional in many ways. Both sides are painted and in good condition, and each one is a complete composition combining traditional elements and artistic innovations. Each side features an image of Lady Taperet praying to different aspects of the sun: Ra, the sun at its zenith, on one side; and Atum, the setting sun, on the other.
An era of painted steles
This wooden stele is a good example of the type of funerary furniture that first appeared around the year 1000 BC in Thebes. In this region, stone steles coexisted for some time with small, brightly colored wooden steles. These are characterized by portrayals of the deceased worshiping distinctive images of solar gods.
The world and the passage of time
Here, the deceased, Lady Taperet, stands before the falcon-headed Ra-Horakhty, symbolizing the sun at its zenith. The god is shooting rays of flowers at her. The other side depicts Atum, the setting sun, receiving Taperet's prayers.
Both sides feature a schematic image of the universe: a black strip forms the hieroglyph for "earth," with papyrus plants growing to the left and lilies to the right. These two plants represent Lower Egypt and Upper Egypt, respectively. They are supporting a curved sign, the hieroglyph for "sky." On the reverse side, this sign has been replaced by an image of the Nut, the goddess of the sky, who swallows the sun every evening, and gives birth to the sun each morning, forming the two cardinal points: east and west.
Taperet and the sun god
Through these images, Lady Taperet is linked to the eternal cycle of the sun and its daily resurrection. The beneficent effects are illustrated by the rays of flowers flowing from the sun disk and illuminating the deceased's face; this is an unusual image. She is offering Ra a table laden with dishes, while the hieroglyphs behind her back guarantee "thousands of loaves of breads, beer, meat, and poultry," for her, according to a thousand-year-old formula by which humans could receive eternal sustenance.
The bright colors and abundant details are also found on other elements of Theban funerary furniture, particularly sargophagi, from the Third Intermediate Period.
- ANDREU G., RUTSCHOWSCAYA M-H., ZIEGLER Ch., L’Egypte au Louvre, Hachette, Paris, 1997, p. 171-174, notice n° 83.
- ALDRED C., DAUMAS Fr., L’Egypte du crépuscule, L’Univers des formes.Tome III. , Paris, 1981, p. 115-116, fig. ; 101-102.
Stele of Lady Taperet
Third Intermediate Period, 22nd Dynasty, 10th or 9th century BC
H.: 31 cm; W.: 29 cm; D.: 2.6 cm
Gift of Batissier, 1851 or 1852
From the year 1000 to the first Persian conquest, c. 1069–404 BC
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See the related mini-site The Gates of Heaven: Visions of the World in Ancient Egypt