Herakleopolitan Period Painted Limestone Wall Panel of Nefer-Tjebau

SKU X.0081



2160 BC to 2040 BC


Dimensions: 33.5″ (85.1cm) high





Gallery Location



“An offering that the king gives, and Anubis, who is upon his mountain, who is in the place of embalming, lord of the necropolis (in order that) funerary offerings may go forth to… (the one revered) by the gods, Nefer-tjebau, who says 'I [was one who was]… beloved of his siblings, honored by the great god, the lord of heaven… [All you who are living upon earth], who love life and hate death, you will say, 'A thousand of bread and beer, a thousand of cattle and fowl, a thousand of every good thing for the Count… the great god, the lord of heaven, to the prosperous commoner, who acted with his (strong) arm, the revered one, Nefer-Tje-bau'…”

So reads a translation of the hieroglyphic invocation that decorates the upper half and the right side of this magnificent First Intermediate Period limestone relief panel dating from the 9th Dynasty. More specifically, this work was created during the Herakleopolitan Period, named after the capital city of the 9th and 10th Dynasties. Standing tall in the center of the composition is a rendition of Nefer-Tjebau holding the hand of his wife, Ibi, who stands behind him. The hieroglyphic lines between their heads can be translated as, “his beloved wife, the king’s sole ornament, Ibi.”

She is painted in a light yellow pigment while his skin is colored by a rich burnt sienna hue. Many of the carved hieroglyphs retain their original color, as do the thin lines, both horizontal and vertical, which divide the text into separate registers. A thick, banded line frames the scene, highlighted in sienna, yellow, and black hues. Considering the age of this piece, the state of preservation is truly remarkable. Also fascinating is the fossilized remains that have encrusted themselves onto the limestone during the many centuries it laid underground, a remarkable testament to the relief’s antiquity. Likely, this piece would have once decorated one of the interior walls in a tomb structure containing the remains of the king, Nefer Tjebau, or perhaps his wife Ibi. No doubt, the invocation and the beauty of the work sought to gain the favor of the gods of the underworld and to facilitate a smooth passage for the deceased into the afterlife. Depicting a king and queen, dedicated to the god Anubis, this gorgeous work is a masterpiece of Ancient Egyptian tomb sculpture.

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