Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Online article: Left-handed Kings?


Left-handed Kings? Observations on a Fragmentary Egyptian Sculpture, Nicholas Reeves. In Studies on Ancient Egypt in Honour of HS Smith (ed. A Leahy and J Tait) (London, 1999), pp. 249-254

The sculpture

The fragment of an Egyptian statue illustrated in figs. 1-3 was acquired in London over two decades ago and is now in private ownership. The original find-spot is reputed to have been Thebes. Sculpted in white limestone, now discoloured in places, the fragment measures 14.5 cm in height, 11.2 cm across and approximately 7.7 cm from front to back (2). The rear of the figure preserves the remains of a broad dorsal pillar 6 cm or more in width and originally 1.8 cm deep. The surface of the pillar is abraded, and it cannot now be established whether it ever carried an inscription.

The subject is a king, originally shown wearing the nemes-headcloth of which only the left-hand lappet now remains. The surface of this lappet is rather worn: relatively long and rounded, just covering the nipple and with its inner edge evidently running parallel to its (lost) counterpart (3), its stripes are indicated by a close-set series of rounded grooves (4). The lower edge of the fragment preserves the remains of a belt with linear (`Bandmuster`) decoration (5), traces of which are still visible on a small section behind the figure`s surviving (left) arm (fig. 3). A `loop` or `tab` which protrudes to the left of the navel (itself damaged) indicates that the kilt originally worn by the king was of the triangular-fronted variety. Evidently, therefore, the complete figure was represented standing, some 60 cm or more in height, with one foot advanced in the usual manner (6).

Apart from the nemes-lappet and vestiges of the kilt, the torso is naked and without accoutrement. Its surviving portions are sensitively carved, if somewhat restrained in matters of anatomical detail, with prominent pectoral muscles and a taut stomach.

See the above page for the entire article.

1 comment:

Jenny said...

This is such a facinating article, particularly because I hadn't given the slightest thought of whether or not the Ancient Egyptians were more leftward or rightward orientated. Only those seriously interested in Ancient Egypt (myself included) would find this...well...facinating :)

I couldn't resist posting this to my blog.