This statue was formerly in the French Kelekian
Collection, formed during the course of the 19th
century. It retains an old inventory number, “338,”
still visible on the label at the back on the left
Preserved from his lower neck to about the level
of his knee caps, this magnificently detailed
statue represents Penanketand. He is depicted
with his left leg advanced and his right arm, bent
at the elbow and moved over his thigh where his
hand, palm-opened and face down, comes to rest.
He is depicted wearing a luxurious, festive kilt
which is both pleated and belted and provided
with a wide, trapezoidal apron in the front, down
the center of which appears a single column of
hieroglyphs. The kilt, suggested to have been
woven from the finest linen, is a variation of that
worn by pharaohs on important state occasions.
His chest is covered by a tightly fitting tunic with
flaring, short, bolero-like sleeves, which are
likewise pleated. Draped diagonally across his
torso is a panther skin, its head, shown frontally,
resting over his lower abdomen and covering his
navel. The center of the panther skin is designed
as a kind of bandolier, the middle of which is again
inscribed with a single column of hieroglyphs.
The hieroglyphs on this statue contain the
traditional invocation offering, but that prayer is
significantly addressed to Thoth rather than, more
traditionally, to Osiris:
A boon which pharaoh grants to Thoth, the Lord
[of the city of Ashmunein, the one who dwells in…
The prayer continues to invoke Thoth, the god of
wisdom and inventor of the hieroglyphs, as
“the Lord of the Hieroglyphs, the [Divine] Scribe
of Truth, who comes forth from Nun [the watery
abyss] as the arbiter of the gods….so that the
possessions of Penanketand may flourish every
Penanketand is portrayed as a standard-bearer,
that is, cradling against his body a sacred staff,
the terminal of which originally featured an aegis,
or cultic object consisting of a head of a deity
framed below by a broad collar. The broad collar
of that aegis is still preserved. On the basis of his
priestly titles and the prominence accorded the
god Thoth in the statue’s inscriptions, one may
suggest that this aegis depicted the head of the
god Thoth, either as baboon or, less likely, an ibis.
Standard-bearing statues are rare within the
repertoire of ancient Egyptian sculptural types.
Although the earliest appear in Dynasty XVIII, the
greatest number of standard bearing statues of
both pharaohs and members of their court are
dated to Dynasty XIX. These statues were erected
in sanctuaries where they served as intercessors.
That is, individuals could approach these images
and address their prayers to the deity depicted on
the standard. The individual serving as the priest
of that deity as well as the reigning pharaoh would
then assure that the prayer was passed on to the
appropriate deity on behalf of the petitioner.
Within this specific cult ritual, one can suggest
that this statue of Penanketand was dedicated in
the temple of Thoth at Ashmunein erected at that
site by Rameses II, called the Great. Remains of
that temple are still visible to this day at this site
which was one of the most important cult centers
of Thoth in the pharaonic period.
The care with which this statue was sculpted and
the attention to detail lavished on its costume
attest to its high quality. Penanketand was
doubtless an advantaged member of the Egyptian
elite serving his pharaoh at Ashumnein. This
impressive statue satisfied the concerns of
petitioners who came before it to entreat Thoth for
For a summary of the arguments about the
function of the standard-bearer and a review of
the relevant literature, see Mary-Ann Eaton
Krauss, “Ramesses-re who Creates the God,” in E.
Bleiberg and R. Freed [editors], Fragments of a
Shattered Visage (Memphis 1993), pages 15-14.