Block statue of a governor, Late Period, Dynasty 26 (ca. 664–525 b.c.)
Graywacke; 14 in. (30.5 cm)
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1982 (1982.318)
Block statues—images of squatting men with knees drawn up against the chest and folded arms resting on the knees—appeared first as a sculptural type in the early Middle Kingdom (ca. 2000 B.C.) and remained popular until well into the Ptolemaic Period (after 200 B.C.). The statues are thought to represent persons participating in religious rites, and the addition of a shrine with a deity image in front of this statue's legs underlines this religious aspect of the image.
The sculptor has avoided representing any superfluous detail. Only shallow edges indicate the hairline and the bottom of the man's dress over his lower legs. Eyes, eyebrows, ears, and mouth are boldly but sparingly delineated so as not to detract from the prominent features of the piece: the smoothly shaped, agile body and long, elegantly disposed limbs. According to the inscription on the back pillar, the statue depicts a governor of the Saite nome (a district in the Nile delta). The text also records a prayer to Osiris, the god of the underworld, whose figure stands in the shrine.