Egyptian Diorite Statue of a Shrine Bearer

SKU X.0012



305 BC to 30 BC


14.375″ (36.5cm) high





Gallery Location



This stunning, finely polished black basalt sculpture depicts the upper half of a priest wearing an unadorned wig. The top of a loincloth that would have covered his legs is visible just above the break. It can be presumed, from comparisons to other similar works, that he originally held a votive shrine in his hands. On the back, a two-column hieroglyphic inscription identifies this individual as Pakher-en-Khonsu. This name, meaning “the servant of the god Chonsu,” comes from the Temple of Karnac in Thebes and was a name that occurred frequently in the Late Period. The types of hieroglyphs inscribed are characteristic of the Ptolemaic era, ca. 250 B.C.

A fragment of a larger sculpture, it is possible to calculate that the completed work would have stood roughly 28 inches based on the Late Egyptian canon of proportions. Based on the posture of his arms, slightly raised, and on other similar sculpture, we can surmise that he once held between his hands a shrine containing a figure of a god, likely Osiris. The priest Pakher-en-Khonsu is also known from another somewhat smaller, although completely preserved, statue carved from the same hard black diorite now located in the Oriental Museum of San Jose, CA.

Created during the Ptolemaic period, when Greek kings ruled over Ancient Egypt, this sculpture reveals that the traditional styles of art continued to thrive despite heavy Hellenistic influences. Surely the Ptolemiac kings sought to assimilate as much of the Egyptian culture as possible in order to bolster their legitimacy as rulers of a foreign land. This sculpture is a testament to two cultures thriving together on the banks of the Nile many centuries ago.

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