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Statue of Ity-sen

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Old Kingdom to 18th Dynasty, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
Ity-sen, son of the official Rawer, was carved as if in motion, left leg striding forward. But now, both feet and the head are missing from his severely damaged portrait sculpture. Iconoclasm in pharaonic Egypt had specific goals, and was done with precision. Several thousand years ago, Ity-sen’s iconoclastic attackers sought to incapacitate the spirit believed to reside in the sculpture by targeting specific body parts. The result would have been devastating. By damaging his image, his enemies had destroyed his ability to function in the afterlife; without his head and feet, Ity-sen could no longer see, speak, hear, breathe, or walk. Like a Kongo nkisi whose empowering materials were removed, this sculpture was no longer a vessel for a spirit, but simply a carving.
MEDIUM Limestone
  • Possible Place Collected: Giza, Egypt
  • DATES ca. 2500–2350 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY Dynasty 5
    PERIOD Old Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS 61 x 20 1/2 x 15 3/16 in. (155 x 52 x 38.5 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    PROVENANCE Archaeological provenance not yet documented, probably from the Tomb of Ra’wer, Serdab 18, Giza, Egypt; by 1937, acquired in Paris by Hagop Kevorkian of New York, NY; 1937, purchased from Hagop Kevorkian by the Brooklyn Museum.
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    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Limestone statue of a standing man. Arms at sides, left foot advanced. Kilt only clothing. Apparently left end figure of a triad. Condition: Assembled from three pieces. Head and right hand missing. Both feet missing, instep of left foot is in a separate piece. Some minor chips. Several gravel incrustations on surface.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Old Kingdom to 18th Dynasty, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
    CAPTION Statue of Ity-sen, ca. 2500–2350 B.C.E. Limestone, 61 x 20 1/2 x 15 3/16 in. (155 x 52 x 38.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.365. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 37.365_bw_IMLS.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 37.365_bw_IMLS.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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