Society for the Promotion of the Egyptian Museum Berlin

Sculptural types

Der ehemalige Griechische Saal ist mit dem Nordwestflügel des Neuen Museums im Krieg völlig zerstört worden. Sein Wiederaufbau bietet den würdigen Rahmen für die Präsentation altägyptischer Skulptur. Nicht eine historische Abfolge gliedert den Raum, sondern Typologie des Menschenbildes in der ägyptischen Plastik. Die beiden Grundformen, die Stand-Schreitfigur und die Sitzfigur, sind jeweils in einem weiten Rechteck aufgestellt, in dessen Mitte sich die Besucher von allen Seiten beobachtet sehen und selbst zu einem Bestandteil der Inszenierung werden. Im hinteren Raumteil folgen Kniefiguren, Würfelstatuen und Schreiberfiguren. Vor dem Hintergrund der formalen Einheitlichkeit dieser fünf Statuentypen wird die stilistische Veränderung des Menschenbildes im Verlauf von drei Jahrtausenden unschwer sichtbar.
  • Stelophor of Sa-Iset
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  • Block statue of  Senenmut with the daughter of Queen Hatshepsut - Nefrure
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Kneeling statues

The steophor kneeling statue holds a stele, a tablet inscribed with a prayer in hieroglyphic script usually a hymn to the sun-god, in front of him. As kneeling naophorous statue, he holds a shrine in which is displayed the worshipped deity. As offering figure he holds receptacles or an offering plate.Erected in the temple courtyards, the statues are used by their owners to list their exceptional works in biographical accounts. This self-portrayal on statues on public display grew enormously popular in the Late Period from the 7th century BC.

Scribe statues

The scribe sits cross-legged on the floor with his papyrus scroll open on his lap. He is one of the elite members of ancient Egyptian society. Historic figures who have made a name for themselves through their cultural achievements as poets, architects and artists are still venerated centuries on in the form of scribe statues which are publicly displayed on temple gates. This is also borne out by the portrayal of the signs of age in the corpulence of the upper body - a clear contrast to the otherwise prevailing ideal of eternal youth.

Seated figures

The seated figure is not shown in an attitude of rest but the subject is sitting upright and adopts concentrated demeanour with uplifted head and carefully positioned arms and legs. The symbol used in hieroglyphic script for enthronement means 'noble, regal”. Used after the name of the deceased, it elevates the latter to a state of transfiguration, one endowed with eternal life. The close-fitting cloak worn by some seated figures underlines this interpretation. It is borrowed from the regalia of Osiris, the god of resurrection.

Standing/striding figures

Thomas Mann described the position adopted by the upright figure as 'standing still while moving forward and moving forward while standing still”. The square base and back pillar form a three-dimensional frame with a perpendicular line running from the head down to the right foot. The diagonal line of the left leg conveys the impression of virtual movement which is suspended. This genre of statue underwrites the physical abilities of the body and its efficiency as one of the presuppositions of eternal life.

Block statues

The block statue makes its first appearance as a genre in the early Middle Kingdom around 1950 BC. Crouching on the floor with knees drawn tightly inwards, the figure is secreted in a cube, often with feet and hands protruding. Rising from the cube shape, the head takes on added animation and vitality in contrast to the closed block. The flat surfaces of the cube lend themselves to biographical inscriptions. Like the kneeling figure, the block statue is a form of statue which is intended for public spaces. The significance of this form of statue is not entirely clear.


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