Sphinx of Hatshepsut

As a sphinx, Hatshepsut displays a lion’s mane and a king’s beard. Hatshepsut ruled as a man, not as a woman, and for this reason her royal protocols and titles are always written without the feminine qualification, which is the “T” letter in hieroglyphs. This is the case in the text inscribed on the base of this sphinx where it is written, “Beloved of the god Amun, endowed with life forever.”

This sphinx is somewhat different from the traditional Egyptian sphinx, which was a human head with a lion’s body. This sphinx has a human face, a lion’s head with mane and ears, and a lion’s body. It is made in the same style as the sphinxes of Amenemhat III of the Middle Kingdom found in Tanis, which have Asiatic features. The sphinx, however, has the beautiful features of the Queen.

Sphinx of Queen Hatshepsut. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 53113
Sphinx of Queen Hatshepsut. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 53113

In spite of her typical representation as a man, she is shown here with feminine facial features, especially in the full cheeks and lips. However, she has a long false beard like kings.

The name Hatshepsut is inscribed on the royal cartouche between the forelegs of the sphinx. The body is painted yellow except for the mane. The false beard and the ears are painted blue.

New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, reign of Hatshepsut, ca. 1479-1458 BC. Limestone, from Deir el-Bahari, West Thebes. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 53113