A diversion from my work- but related. Mentuhotep II embracing his wife Sadeh in his temple at Deir el-Bahri (from Naville 1910).
An unusual depiction of a king embracing a woman. Usually, the woman embraces the man. Mentuhotep is also shown embracing Ashayt. Such scenes are rare but not unique. A fifth Dynasty fragment from the mortuary temple of King Sahure shows the king embracing his wife. Embracing can show power relations as well as intimacy - in such cases however, the embracing is usually carried out by the lesser partner.
The temple tomb of Mentuhotep on the west bank at Thebes incorporates the tombs of at least 8 women. They are sometimes said to be his wives, but reality seems more complex.
Depictions of the king embracing do not occur in the 'wives' funerary structures. It has thus been suggested that the so-called 'harem' of Mentuhotep were only his wives for the purpose of cult. They are all priestesses of Hathor and their chapels designed to show the king's special relationship with this goddess.
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