Model of Musical Entertainment
The wooden model of musical entertainment from the tomb of Ka-tenen depicts musicians and singers performing for the master. The master is seated on a carrying chair. A woman is seated on a stool by his feet. A man and a woman, who are positioned on either side of the carrying chair, are playing harps. Two baskets and two boxes are placed in front of the deceased.
Three women are shown clapping to the rhythm. All the figures wear wigs and short kilts. This model was placed in the tomb so that the deceased could continue to be entertained by musicians and singers in the hereafter.
Music played a very important part in ancient Egyptian life. From all periods there are scenes in temples and tombs showing musicians playing. Deities were praised in songs and many women of the elite had titles such as ‘chantress of Amun’, demonstrating the importance of music in the cults of the gods.
Music and dance were highly valued in ancient Egyptian culture, but they were more important than is generally thought: they were integral to creation and communion with the gods and, further, were the human response to the gift of life and all the experiences of the human condition.
Ritual temple music was largely a matter of the rattling of the sistrum, accompanied by voice, sometimes with harp and/or percussion. Party/festival scenes show ensembles of instruments (lyres, lutes, double and single reed flutes, clappers, drums) and the presence (or absence) of singers in a variety of situations.
Middle Kingdom, ca. 2050-1710 BC. From Saqqara Necropolis. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 39130