Stela in dedication to Khonsu from draughtsman Pay

Pay was a man who lived in the famous workers/artists village of Deir el-Medina, then known as Set Ma’at, which translates to “The Place of Truth”. Pay’s titles tell us that he worked as a draughtsman, a very important role in making sure that both the temples and tombs of the royals and elites of society were decoratedly adequately.

The role of a draughtsman would be to essentially plan out the decor of the tombs and temples, he would “draft” the images and texts which were to be either drawn or carved upon the tomb or temple walls and pillars. This important and technical role would hold a magnitude of responsibility, as the drafting of the tomb and temple decor would indicate where and what the other artisans would produce, and if one piece was out of place, it could disrupt the whole project.

Drafting would include intricate measuring used to provide the tombs and temples with perfectly fitting (both in style and sizing) imagery and writings. Such measuring was usually done via gridwork, and some gridwork can still be seen in unfinished tombs to this very day. Therefore, we can presume that Pay’s job as draughtsman would require him to be the one to provide accurate spacing for linework, writings, and stylised imagery that would befit the canon of the Ancient Egyptian tomb and temple decor. It would be this planning that would help the artists produce work worthy of their recipient.

Pay lived within the early 19th Dynasty, c. 1292–1190 B.C. and would have resided in the Set Ma’at workers village with his family, the village is known today as Deir el-Medina. Deir el-Medina was contructed to house the builders and artisans who were working on nearby projects, most notebly the tombs of the royals and elites, but also temples too. The village would house some of Egypt’s most talented artisans and their families. It was a literate society and remnants of the village writings has shown us that they were a community full of varied characters also. Use the search engine of our page here at Egypt-Museum to find more fascinating posts from Deir el-Medina; including being the location of the first documented workers-strike in history.

Stela in dedication to Khonsu from draughtsman Pay
Stela in dedication to Khonsu from draughtsman Pay. Museo Egizio. Cat. 1553

In this limestone stela, Pay is kneeling before the lunar deity Khonsu, and offering the god various tribute in the form of food and foliage. Khonsu is mentioned in the Pyramid Texts and Coffin Texts, in which he is depicted in a fierce aspect, but he does not rise to prominence until the New Kingdom, when he is described as the “Greatest God of the Great Gods”. Most of the construction of the temple complex at Karnak was centered on Khonsu during the Ramesside period.

Painted limestone Stela in dedication to the Moon god Khonsu, from the draughtsman Pay
New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty, c. 1292–1190 B.C.
From Deir el-Medina.
Museo Egizio, Turin Italy. Cat. 1553