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West wall of the chapel of Nikauhor and Sekhemhathor

Period:
Old Kingdom
Dynasty:
Dynasty 5
Reign:
reign of Userkaf–Niuserre
Date:
ca. 2465–2389 B.C.
Geography:
From Egypt, Memphite Region, Saqqara; includes the Serapeum, Djoser Pyramid precinct, Cemetery, Tomb QS 915, west wall
Medium:
Limestone, paint
Dimensions:
33 in. (83.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1908
Accession Number:
08.201.2a–g
  • Description

    Nikauhor was a judge and a priest of Userkaf's sun temple and mortuary cult. His wife, Sekhemhathor, was a priestess of Hathor and Neith. The false door niche on the left, flanked by figures of Nikauhor, belongs to him; that on the right, flanked by figures of the couple, belongs to his wife. Nikauhor's offering stela is missing, and that of Sekhemhathor-which originally was placed above her false door-has been displaced to the left because of the height of the wall.
    Nikauhor's single figures in particular are very finely carved; his mature, austere features are characteristic of Fifth Dynasty style as opposed to that of the Fourth. The relief flanking his wife's false door is flatter and less modeled.
    The intervening expanse of wall shows, from the bottom, a painted dado, the slaughter of cattle, the presentation of offerings, and a game of senet being played alongside a group of musicians. Such scenes sometimes have recognizably allegorical meanings: the passage through the afterworld was, for instance, likened to a game of senet. White outlines among and over the figures of the uppermost preserved register are traces of chair legs and the leg of a large seated figure, which belonged to an erased scene.
    The mastaba of Nikauhor, like those of Raemkai and Perneb, was located in a cemetery north of the Djoser complex.

  • See also
    What
    Where
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    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
543914

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