Stela from the Tomb of a Noblewoman
Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art
On View: Special Exhibitions, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
Though rebirth in the tomb required gender transformation for women, in the next world women lived forever returned to their original state. In this very ancient and rare Early Dynastic Period stela, a noblewoman is seated at an offering table, able to eat and drink for all eternity. The demands of rebirth are long past and will not be faced again. For the Egyptians, people were reborn only once. There was no further reincarnation beyond the next world.
ca. 2675-2170 B.C.E.
Dynasty 3, or earlier
10 7/8 x 10 7/16 x 2 9/16 in. (27.7 x 26.5 x 6.5 cm) (show scale)
Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
Offering stela of a woman. The stela is roughly square in shape. The woman is shown seated behind a table of offerings. The bulk of the stela is occupied with lists of offerings. Limestone.
Condition: Right hand upper corner of relief is missing. Other chips and scratches. Surface shows action of mold. Worn.
Stela from the Tomb of a Noblewoman, ca. 2675-2170 B.C.E. Limestone, 10 7/8 x 10 7/16 x 2 9/16 in. (27.7 x 26.5 x 6.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.1348E. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 37.1348E_PS9.jpg)
overall, 37.1348E_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2015
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What is a “stela”?
The word "stela" basically means a freestanding, decorated panel. They're often stone like the one you photographed, but can also be wood.
Most of the stelae that you see in our Egyptian galleries are funerary, designed to be in or near the person's tomb. The images and text on them either honors to gods or asks for offerings from the living.