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Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Now here's another weird thing!

What is he holding?

This is a black granite or granodiorite sculpture of male holding two long objects. We do not know what the items are and assume them to be vases. We know of no comparable examples.

The object is probably Middle Kingdom (c.2030-1640 BC).

From the side it appears that the figure is kneeling, which is compatible with figures shown holding vessels (though not usually ones quite like this).

That this is made from hard stone suggests that this item belonged to a noble and indeed the inscription on back states that the man is the Steward Iwf.

This was formerly part of the Rustafjaell collection purchased by Sir Henry Wellcome at auction in December 19th-20th 1906, lot 219. Published in Malek (1999, 382). For more information on Middle Kingdom art see Bourriau (1988).

Further reading

Bourriau, J. 1988. Pharaohs and Mortals. Egyptian Art in the Middle Kingdom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Malek, J.,  Magee, D. and Miles, E. 1999. Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Statues, Reliefs and Paintings, VIII, Objects of Provenance Not Known, Part 1. Royal Statues. Private Statues (Predynastic to Dynasty XVII). Oxford: Griffith Institute.

Russmann, E.R. 2001. Eternal Egypt. Masterworks of Ancient Egyptian Art from the British Museum. London: British Museum Press.


  1. This may be out of left field but it looks to me that the statue may be holding an un-rolled papyrus scroll.

  2. An interesting idea! Papyrus scrolls were big. And it seems more likely than the drum I was thinking of (especially for a Steward).

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Yes, a papyrus roll is another possibility. Still no parallels though.

  5. Si credo anche io che possano esMsere dei Rotoli di Papiro.