Statue of Amenemhat III as Hapi

This double statue of Amenemhat III as Hapi, the Nile god, was discovered at Tanis, capital of the 21st Dynasty Kings, however, the two male figures are clearly portraits of the 12th Dynasty king Amenemhat III. They are carved with perfect symmetry, offering fish, birds, and aquatic plants.

Both wear heavy wigs with large braids, wide beards, and finely pleated kilts. This representation of the king as Hapi is a novelty in royal statuary. An unusual twin image of Amenemhat III represented in the form of the Nile god Hapi was found from Tanis.

Statue of King Amenemhat III as Hapi
Statue of King Amenemhat III as Hapi. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 18221

The statue shows the king twice, side by side, with the long, heavy wig and false beard that characterize the primordial creator divinities of the country. Slightly bending under its weight, the king carries a rich offering. 

As suggested by the modest pose, the statues might represent the king in his function as a provider of offering for the gods, a notion supported by the archaic decoration that recalls, both the earliest times and creation and fecundity.

Both statue types – lion king and fecundity king – may have been part of the same unusual but significant statue programme that commemorated aspects of kingship and its role in the creation of the universe. The inscriptions were added by King Psusennes I of the 21st Dynasty when this group was removed, like many other monuments, to Tanis.

Statue of Amenemhat III as Hapi
Statue of Amenemhat III as Hapi

Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty, reign of Amenemhat III, ca. 1860-1814 BC. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 18221