Headrest of Shemai
Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art
On View: Old Kingdom to 18th Dynasty, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
This headrest—the Egyptian version of a pillow—was found in the tomb of a man named Shemai. Headrests were believed to have magical powers that protected the head from evil spirits. The inscription on this example invokes Osiris, god of the afterworld, suggesting that Shemai had it made specifically for his tomb.
ca. 2288-2170 B.C.E.
7 5/8 in. (19.4 cm)
base: 6 3/16 × 2 3/4 in. (15.7 × 7 cm) (show scale)
Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
Alabaster headrest made in three parts with fluted column. Inscribed in two lines and one column for the Village headman and Courtier sm3.1 (? or sm3), inscription incised and inlaid in malachite.
Condition: One chip (recent) on rim of headpiece. Much inlay lost from inscription. The three sections were glued together by Kofler.
Headrest of Shemai, ca. 2288-2170 B.C.E. Alabaster, pigment, 7 5/8 in. (19.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 59.3. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 59.3_front_bw.jpg)
front, 59.3_front_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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