One of the amazing and extraordinary maintaining artefacts from the old Egypt is the Steles. They are great artworks and also telling stories about the events from those days.
They were and will remain magnificent. Here I want to present just two of them with a beautiful description by my adorable friend Marie Grillot, I am obliged as always.
Stele of Tatiaset, singer of Amun
This lovely stele from the second half of the XXIIth Dynasty is dedicated to the “mistress of the house Tatiaset”. Coming from a family of the Theban clergy – her father Saiah was “priest of the purification of Amun” – she was herself a singer of Amun… She married a scribe by the name of “Djed-Bastet”.
The stele, 23.4 cm high, is, in fact, a panel of curved wood, covered with gesso and painted. The two sides, which have retained the vividness of their colours, are different and just as interesting.
In the centre of the front is Nut, the goddess of Sycamore. She is represented, standing, face on, in the middle of her tree. She wears a tripartite wig, a large green necklace as well as bracelets, armilas, and periscelids. Her red garment, which hugs her forms, is tied under her opulent bosom with a white belt, the two drops of which are of unequal length. In each hand, she holds a fine ewer whose trickles of water will purify the hands of the two deceased who are seated on either side. Their beautifully crafted armchairs rest on green mats.
On the left is Tatiaset. Her slender face, animated by large eyes surrounded by kohol, is framed by a long brown wig. An odoriferous cone is placed on his head. She is dressed in a long white linen dress and wears a large green collar. His right-hand collects the purifying water poured out by the goddess while the left is lifted, palm facing out, as a sign of worship.
On the right, her husband is represented in a similar position and gestures. He is dressed quite similarly but wears a short wig. His face is slender, his eye expressive, and his chin is adorned with a short goatee.
The balance of the composition, whose dominant colours are white, red ocher and green, is perfect.
Marie-Astrid Calmettes analyzes this scene as: “an image taken from chapters 54-63 of the ‘Book to leave the day’ relating to the provision of breeze and water for the deceased in the afterlife”. Christian Leblanc, who was kind enough to read the hieroglyphic inscriptions, specifies: “On the right, it is the scribe of the house of the divine adorer of Amun, Djed-Bastet, son of Mery-en-Khonsou, justified”.
On the left, it is the “mistress of the house and singer of Amon named Tatiaset, justified”. This lady was the wife of Djed-Bastet. The father of Tatiaset, a certain Sa-Iâh (Saiâh = ie “the son of the moon”), “priest-ouab of Amun” (pure priest), is not represented but his name and his title are written behind the deceased”.
Thus, these inscriptions offer us an important part of Tatiaset’s “biography”.
The other side is dominated by “the sign of the sky pet (pt) curved and originally painted in blue” while at the bottom there is a “horizontal band evoking the earth” specifies Marie-Astrid Calmettes who adds: ” As for the falcon with outstretched wings which appears in the upper part, it is not identified verbatim. The only thing which is certain is that it is about a god, a celestial and solar god “.
In a “divine” balance, the god holds between his talons the sign shen, symbol of eternity with which is associated an eye-oudjat. The colours of the plumage and those of the protective signs are in perfect harmony. Under the falcon’s tail are four hieroglyphic lines written in black on an ocher background; they are separated by green vertical bands.
The main scene brings together three “characters”.
On the right is Tatiaset, standing, wearing a light linen dress, the folds of which are materialized by orange lines. She has the same hairstyle as on the other side but adorned with a headband whose blue-green tones match her large necklace.
In her left hand, she holds a heart: this presence is as significant as it is symbolic. The heart-ib in ancient Egypt – was: “the most important organ for the individual. The seat of her thoughts, conscience and will, it was also the receptacle of her memory, the witness of all It is in this capacity that she appears in the judgment scenes of the deceased (psychostasis) where she is confronted with the Maat. If he were to be destroyed, the dead man would be unable to appear before the divine court, “Isabelle Franco tells us in her” Dictionary of Egyptian Mythology. “
Her right hand is in that of the black-headed, green-fleshed god Anubis. This one is also represented standing in the walking attitude. He is wearing a green strapless corset as well as a loincloth in brown tones, held in place by a darker belt. It is adorned with many jewels, a wide necklace, bracelets, vests, and Periscelid He guides the deceased to Rê-Horakhty.
Between the two gods is set a table of offerings where the victuals are topped with delicate lotus flowers. On either side of the table’s leg are lettuces.
The two hieroglyphic inscriptions on the left state: “An offering that the king gives to Anubis, master of the sacred land (ie necropolis)” – “An offering that the king gives to Re-Horakhty, who is the head of the gods” (or ” who presides over the gods “). While the text on the right, in two columns, indicates: “The Osiris, the mistress of the house, Tatiaset”. The inscription between Anubis and Tatiaset is a mention of the father of the deceased: “the priest-ouab of Amun, Saiâh”.
The scene aims for Tatiaset’s heart to be “justified” by the gods so that she can access eternity …
This stele is one of four discoveries made by the 1921-1922 mission of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York led by Herbert Eustis Winlock in the Deir el-Bahari area. In the tomb which will be referenced MMA 801: “Four painted wooden stelae of a family of priests and priestesses of Amun, who were also officials of the Vice-queen of Thebes, were lying near the door of the chapel” specifies the discoverer …
When the excavations were shared by the Egyptian Government, it was assigned to the MET, where it was registered under the entry number: 22.3.33.
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/550807?searchField=All&sortBy=Relevance&ft=statue+THEBES&offset=100&rpp=20&pos=108 Excavations At Deir El Bahari (1911-1931) by Winlock, Herbert Eustis (1884-1950) https://archive.org/details/Winlock_Deir_El_Bahari_1911-1931 Winlock in MMA Bull. Pt. Ii, December 1922, 37 fig. 28, cf. 32TOPOGRAPHICAL BIBLIOGRAPHY OF ANCIENT EGYPTIAN HIEROGL YPHIC TEXTS, RELIEFS, AND PAINTINGS – I. THE THEBAN NECROPOLIS PART 2. ROYAL TOMBS AND SMALLER CEMETERIES BY THE LATE BERTHA PORTER AND ROSALIND LB MOSS, HoN. D. LITT. (OxoN.), FSA Assisted by ETHEL W. BURNEYSECOND EDITION REVISED AND AUGMENTED – OXFORD AT THE CLARENDON PRESS, 1964 – p. 654 http://www.griffith.ox.ac.uk/topbib/pdf/pm1-2.pdf
|All my thanks to Christian Leblanc for the hieroglyphic translations and to Marie-Astrid Calmettes, Khéops Institute of Egyptology, Paris, Université Libre de Bruxelles (CIERL), for the valuable information she kindly provided me with|