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Stela of the Overseer of Artisans Irtisen

Middle Kingdom

Not on view

This object is not part of The Met collection. It was in the Museum for a special exhibition and has been returned to the lender.

Irtisen was an overseer of artisans, a profession that he praises on this stela, one of the most famous ancient Egyptian documents connected to artistic production. Placing himself among society’s elite, he describes his mastery of the secrets related to hieroglyphic writing, rituals, and magic. He further relates that he knows the poses and proportions of particular types of figures in sculpture and relief and the recipes used to create enduring colors. All this knowledge would be transmitted only to his eldest son. A standard funerary offering scene is depicted below, followed by a recessed shrine, the doors of which have been opened to reveal Irtisen and his wife seated at an offering table.

Stela of the Overseer of Artisans Irtisen, Limestone

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