Statuette of a Royal (?) Woman with the Cartouches of Necho II on her Arms

Period: Late Period, Saite

Dynasty: Dynasty 26

Reign: reign of Necho II

Date: 610–595 B.C.

Geography: From Egypt

Medium: Silver

Dimensions: H. 23.8 cm (9 3/8 in.); W. 5.6 cm (2 3/16 in.); D. 5.4 cm (2 1/8 in.)

Credit Line: Theodore M. Davis Collection, Bequest of Theodore M. Davis, 1915

Accession Number: 30.8.93


This nude sensual female figure has the cartouches of Necho II on her upper arms. A small tightly fitted wig caps her head, and two holes with silver wires are located in the wig over her forehead; their placement suits a uraeus. She wears a finely wrought broad collar plus earrings (only one of which is preserved), bracelets and anklets.

King’s cartouches are normally a sign affiliation for male courtiers; it is strange to see them on a nude female figure, and that she apparently also wore the uraeus. While nude female figurines have been for some time understood as requests for birth and rebirth based on texts on a few, new evidence has expanded our understanding, relating examples found in temples to the efficacy of rituals and magical cures and pointing to their identification with numerous goddesses. This magnificent figure might best be understood in relation to the important role of the God’s Wife of Amun at Thebes. In the Saite period she was the daughter of a king established as the god’s consort and responsible for stimulating his generative powers for the good of all.
Purchased in Thebes, it is possible the figure derives from Karnak or from the burial of one of the God’s Wives on the West Bank.