Statue of a Woman Carrying Offerings

This masterpiece of Egyptian wood carving of a woman carrying offerings was discovered in a hidden chamber at the side of the passage leading into the rock cut tomb of the royal chief steward Meketre, who began his career under King Mentuhotep II of 11th Dynasty and continued to serve successive kings into the early years of 12th Dynasty.

Together with a second, very similar female figure (now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 20.3.7) this statue flanked the group of twenty two models of gardens, workshops, boats, and a funeral procession that were crammed into the chamber’s narrow space. The statue depicts a woman walking on a rectangular base. She carries a basket containing four red jars that are most likely for wine.

Statue of a Woman Carrying Offerings
Statue of a Woman Carrying Offerings

The jars are sealed with conical lids. Her left hand supports the basket while her right hand is by her side holding a duck by its wings. She is wearing a long three-part wig that reaches her chest and a long tunic that shows her feet.

The tunic is supported by two wide braces covering her chest. Her neck is decorated with a necklace of multiple strings of red, green, white, and blue beads. Her wrists are decorated with small bracelets. The lady is barefoot, and her ankles are decorated with two bands.

Related: Ancient Egyptian Beaded Dress

All the accessible rooms in the tomb of Meketre had been plundered in ancient times, but, early in 1920, the Museum’s excavator, Herbert Winlock had his workmen clean out the accumulated debris in order to obtain an accurate floor plan of the tomb.

It was during this cleaning operation that the small hidden chamber was discovered, filled with its almost perfectly preserved models and the two statues. In the division of finds between the Egyptian Government and the Metropolitan Museum, half of the contents went to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and half came to New York.

Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty, ca. 1981-1975 BC. From the Tomb of Meketre (TT280), Sheikh Abd el-Qurna, West Thebes. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 46725