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HOME : Egyptian Antiquities : Archive : Egyptian New Kingdom Granodiorite Sculpture of the Priest Penanketand
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Egyptian New Kingdom Granodiorite Sculpture of the Priest Penanketand - X.0239
Origin: Egypt
Circa: 1295 BC to 1186 BC
Dimensions: 13.375" (34.0cm) high
Collection: Egyptian
Medium: Granodiorite

Additional Information: SOLD

Location: Great Britain
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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 shoulder.

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 day.”

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 his assistance.



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.

- (X.0239)


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