Art/ Collection/ Art Object

King Sahure and a Nome God

Old Kingdom
Dynasty 5
reign of Sahure
ca. 2458–2446 B.C.
From Egypt
H: 64 cm (25 3/16 in); W: 46 cm (18 1/8 in); D: 41.5 cm (16 5/16 in)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1918
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 103
This is the only preserved three-dimensional representation that has been identified as Sahure, the second ruler of Dynasty 5. Seated on a throne, the king is accompanied by a smaller male figure personifying the local god of the Coptite nome, the fifth nome (province) of Upper Egypt. This deity offers the king an ankh (hieroglyph meaning "life") with his left hand. The nome standard, with its double-falcon emblem, is carved above the god's head. Sahure wears the nemes headcloth and straight false beard of a living pharaoh. The flaring hood of the uraeus, the cobra goddess who protected Egyptian kings, is visible on his brow. The nome god wears the archaic wig and curling beard of a deity.

The statue may have been intended to decorate the king's pyramid complex at Abusir, about fifteen miles south of Giza. At the end of the previous dynasty, multiple statues of this type were placed in the temple of Menkaure (Mycerinus) to symbolize the gathering of nome gods from Upper and Lower Egypt around the king. However, since no other statues of this type are preserved from Sahure's reign, it is possible that this statue was a royal dedication in one of the temples in Coptos (modern Qift).
On the throne:
Hr.w nb-xa.w nswt sAH.w-raw
Horus Nebkhau, King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Sahure

Before the figure of deity, the few signs remain. Comparing them to inscriptions on similar statues, allow us to reconstruct the text as follows :
D[d mdw] rDi.n(=i) n=k (j)x[.t] n[b(.t) nfr(.t) Htp.t nb.t DfA.w nb jm.jwt SmA.w m nswt D.t]
W[ords spoken]: I have given you a[ll good thi]ngs, [all provisions, (and) all offerings from Upper Egypt, when you appear (in glory) as the King of Upper and Lower Egypt.]
Purchased in Luxor from Yusef Hassan, 1918.

Aldred, Cyril 1980. Egyptian Art in the Days of the Pharaohs, 3100-320 BC, World of Art, New York: Oxford University Press, p. 93.

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