Relief of an Acacia Tree Shading Water Jars with Drinking Cups
reign of Mentuhotep II, early
ca. 2051–2030 B.C.
From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Tomb of Neferu (TT 319, MMA 31), MMA excavations, 1923–25
H. 83 x W. 88.5 cm (32 11/16 x 34 13/16 in.)
Rogers Fund, 1926
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 104
In this picturesque image of water jars beneath an acacia tree, each jar for ready use topped by a drinking cup, there may be hidden allusions to beliefs about the afterlife. In the Old Kingdom, an institution called “the acacia house” was maintained at the solar cult site of Heliopolis (near present day Cairo). To this institution belonged a group of women who served as mourners and ritual dancers at each pharaoh’s funeral. Queen Neferu may have been a member of Mentuhotep II’s acacia house.
For other reliefs of Neferu, see 26.3.353* and 31.3.1.
Museum excavations, 1923-25. Acquired by the Museum in the division of finds.