Travelling Boat being Rowed

Middle Kingdom

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 105

This boat is being rowed in a northerly direction, downstream, against the prevailing north wind. Its mast and spars rest in the forklike support beam, ready to be rigged for the return journey. The sail lies folded on the deck. A small cabin, positioned amidships, leaves room for eighteen rowers; speed clearly is important on this journey. Seated on a stool in the prow, Meketre holds a closed lotus flower to his nose. Before him stands a man (possibly the boat captain), with arms crossed reverentially over his chest. Inside the cabin, a servant guards Meketre's trunk. Is the Chief Steward on an inspection tour for the pharaoh, and does the trunk contain the accounts? Even if this represents a real-life event, the model still refers to the afterlife because the lotus flower, which opens every morning when the sun comes up, is a symbol of rebirth.

Travelling Boat being Rowed, Wood, paint, plaster, linen twine and cloth

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