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Central Panel from a Shrine for a Divine Image

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: 19th Dynasty to Roman Period, Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Gallery, 3rd Floor

The central panel here is inscribed for the Thirtieth Dynasty king Nectanebo II (reigned circa 360–342 B.C.). It comes from a shrine that presumably held a cult statue of the squatting goddess it depicts. Showing a figure in heavy, enveloping robes like this was a standard way of representing deities and symbolizing protection and the potential for life and regeneration. The resemblance to a wrapped mummy has led some Egyptologists to wonder: Is a mummy a body stylized into a divine image?

The side panels are probably from a different and earlier shrine.

MEDIUM Wood, glass
  • Reportedly From: Abusir, Egypt
  • DATES ca. 664-342 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY Dynasty 26 to Dynasty 30
    PERIOD Late Period
    DIMENSIONS 18 1/2 x 13 3/8 x 1 3/8 in. (47 x 34 x 3.5 cm)  (show scale)
    ACCESSION NUMBER 37.258E
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Central Panel from a Shrine for a Divine Image, ca. 664-342 B.C.E. Wood, glass, 18 1/2 x 13 3/8 x 1 3/8 in. (47 x 34 x 3.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.258E. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 37.258E_SL3.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 37.258E_SL3.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Large wooden panel. At the top is a horizontal band bearing an inscription which gives the name of Nectanebo II: "Life to the Good God, the Lord of the Two Lands, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt Nectanebo II." This inscription is written twice; once in each direction from the "ankh" which is written only once. Below this band are three wooden panels set into the main piece of wood. In the center is a seated goddess, facing right, crowned with a sun-disk. The other two panels represent, each, a uraeus coiled upon a "neb" basket, and wearing an "atef" crown. The snakes face inwards and extend two wings forwards. Before then are a "was" scepter and "shen" sign as well as a small cartouche. These figures are modeled in relief and inlaid with colored glass. The hieroglyphs of the upped band of inscription are also inlaid with colored glass. Below these figures are three panels, side by side, which are inlaid to resemble the woven patterns on false doors. The main piece of wood extends down past these last three insets but it is broken and rotted. Two rectangular pieces of wood extend sideways out from behind the upper band of inscription (one on each side). The piece is probably part of a piece of furniture. Condition: Bottom rotted away; many glass inlays missing.
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