Statuette of a Royal (?) Woman with the Cartouches of Necho II on her Arms
Late Period, Saite
reign of Necho II
H. 23.8 cm (9 3/8 in.); W. 5.6 cm (2 3/16 in.); D. 5.4 cm (2 1/8 in.)
Theodore M. Davis Collection, Bequest of Theodore M. Davis, 1915
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 127
This nude sensual female figure has the cartouches of Necho II on her upper arms. A small tightly fitted wig caps her head, and two holes with silver wires are located in the wig over her forehead; their placement suits a uraeus. She wears a finely wrought broad collar plus earrings (only one of which is preserved), bracelets and anklets.
King’s cartouches are normally a sign affiliation for male courtiers; it is strange to see them on a nude female figure, and that she apparently also wore the uraeus. While nude female figurines have been for some time understood as requests for birth and rebirth based on texts on a few, new evidence has expanded our understanding, relating examples found in temples to the efficacy of rituals and magical cures and pointing to their identification with numerous goddesses. This magnificent figure might best be understood in relation to the important role of the God’s Wife of Amun at Thebes. In the Saite period she was the daughter of a king established as the god’s consort and responsible for stimulating his generative powers for the good of all. Purchased in Thebes, it is possible the figure derives from Karnak or from the burial of one of the God’s Wives on the West Bank.
Purchased by Theodore M. Davis in Egypt from Mohammed Mohassib, Luxor, 1905. Formerly Theodore M. Davis Collection. Bequeathed to the Museum by Davis, 1915; accessioned, 1930.