A Statue of Divine Consort of Amum

On the bus back from Montclair, NJ to the city, I happened to have a glimpse at one of the advertisement page on the current issue of “Art and Antique” magazine. What is featured is something unusual: an almost life-size bronze statue in the 22nd Dynasty.

A lot of residence-cities of Third Intermediate have suffered almost total destruction or lie beneath Delta silt, therefore there are not a lot material remains from the palace site. (This statues are almost certain from some temple.) But Libyans, more advanced than Egyptians with respect to smith works, brought their special skills in bronze, silver and gold. Therefore, if any object survives, they could show considerable artistic merits.

The 22nd Dynasty was marked by those pharaohs with foreign names: Shoshenq or Osorkon. But they were not the Libyan described in the wall relief of the New Kingdom with the stupid side locks with beards; instead they adopted the Egyptian way naturally since they had been living in Egypt since 19th Dynasty.

In the ad, the identity of the bronze statue is a Divine Consort of Amum, a religious official post usually held by a female member of royal family. I have seen a picture of Queen Karomama from Louvre. The dress and the short wig are similar to this statue and appropriate to the period, but the details of the floral collar and the embroidered gown on the queen are far more stunning while this one is quite plain. As usual, the sistra that she is supposed to hold in both hands are missing.

I wish I can know more about this particular piece for sale. First, her feet are just shoulder-width apart. Most of the standing gods or goddesses that I have seen have left foot ahead. Secondly, if she was a Divine Consort of Amum, then there must be some records or traces because she is a wife of the god and most likely a member from royal family. The large scale size and her inlaid eyes and gold necklace indicate this is not meant for some commoner. But the statue is only dated to the dynasty, not to some specific king. And lastly, her face features, to me, actually look more like Kushite than Libyan. And it is known that Kushites kept the established Divine Consort practice. Is she a kushite?

I cannot find this particular object on the gallery’s website. But they have great inventory of antiquities. The website is www.royalathena.com.

About Hui

Wang Hui lived from 1632 - 1717 and followed in the footprints of his great grandfathers, grandfather, father and uncles and learned painting at a very early age. He was later taught by two contemporary masters, Zhang Ke and Wang Shimin, who taught him to work in the tradition of copying famous Chinese paintings. This is most likely the reason why critics claim that his work is conservative and reflects the Yuan and Song traditions. One critic claimed that "his landscape paintings reflect his nostalgic attachment to classical Chinese aesthetics. Along with the other Wangs, Wang Hui helped to perpetuate the tradition of copying the ancient masters rather than creating original work.

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