EGYPTIAN INTERNATIONAL ART

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RELIEFS FROM THE TOMB OF NEBAMUN

FOWLING IN THE MARSHES AND A GARDEN POOL


Nebamun stands on a small papyrus boat with his wife Hatshepsut behind him and his son below. He is about to let fly a throwstick into a mass of birds above a papyrus thicket. The hieroglyphs below Nebamun's raised arm describe him as 'taking recreation and seeing what is good in the place of eternity', that is, in the Afterlife. The scene would have been balanced on the left by one of Nebamun spearing fish: the end of the spear where it enters the water is just visible. This scene is perhaps not all it seems. Why should Hatshepsut be dressed in such fine clothes for a trip in the marshes? Why is there a large duck on the front of the boat? There are at least two meanings to this scene. The spearing of the fish scene may allude to new life, as the tilapia fish is a symbol of rebirth. The other images may be subtly erotic, since the duck is known as an erotic symbol, and a woman dressed up, particularly with such a heavy wig, suggests some form of sexual association. The detail in the painting is remarkable. Recent conservation work revealed that the cat has gold leaf placed on its eye. Despite his modest title of 'scribe and counter of grain', Nebamun could evidently afford to put a great deal of resources into his tomb.

 

 

Fragment of wall painting from the tomb of Nebamun
Thebes, Egypt
18th Dynasty, around 1350 BC

A Garden Pool Fragment of wall painting from the tomb of Nebamun
Thebes, Egypt
18th Dynasty, around 1350 BC

 

Kent Weeks

Theban Mapping Project