Senenmout and the little princess Neferourê


Senenmut was an 18th Dynasty ancient Egyptian architect and government official. His name translates literally as “mother’s brother.” Wikipedia

Was he Queen Hatshepsut’s Secret Lover? Who knows. His first enters the historical record on a national level as the “Steward of the God’s Wife” (Hatshepsut)  and “Steward of the King’s Daughter” (Neferure). Some Egyptologists place Senenmut’s entry into royal service during the reign of Thutmose I, but it is far more likely that it occurred during either the reign of Thutmose II or while Hatshepsut was still regent and not pharaoh. After Hatshepsut was crowned pharaoh, Senenmut was given more prestigious titles and became high steward of the king. More here.

Only the interesting topic is how he holds the princess so protectively. Is she his child? Anyway, let’s go ahead with another fascinating description by brilliant Marie Grillot. 💖🙏💖

Senenmout et la petite princesse Neferourê


Cube statue of Senenmout and Neferourê – grey granite
discovered in the Hiding place of Karnak, by Georges Legrain, December 30, 1904
recorded in the Journal des Entrées of the Cairo Museum – JE 37438bis – CG 42114

Of the little princess, we only see the head. She is still a child, with full cheeks and curious eyes, open to the future. The ears are well-drawn, the eyes are large, the nose, small, has suffered. She brings the index finger of her right hand to her lips. Her skull: “is covered with a headband adorned with the uraeus and letting the princely braid escape to the left”. The lower part of the face, like the nose or the uraeus, was damaged, broken. The braid to the side and the index finger to the mouth: these are the two distinctive signs of childhood in ancient Egypt, and they are reminiscent of the young Harpocrates!

The child is safe, in confidence, protected in the lap of the other character who has his chin resting on the top of his skull, and we imagine that he encloses her with his protective arms. But of that, arms, body and legs, we see nothing because we are facing a cube statue or block statue. This means that it is: “cut from the compact mass of a cubic block, which schematically represents the attitude of a crouching man, his hands brought under his chin and placed on his knees, the whole being hidden under a coat.

Cube statue of Senenmout and Neferourê – grey granite

discovered in the Hiding place of Karnak, by Georges Legrain, December 30, 1904

recorded in the Journal des Entrées of the Cairo Museum – JE 37438bis – CG 42114

“This type of statuary made its appearance in the Middle Kingdom, but the squatting attitude is attested since the first dynasties.” And, in this case: “it is the introduction of the head of the pupil emerging from the mantle of the guardian, which is an innovation of the 18th Dynasty”. (Official catalogue Egyptian Museum of Cairo, Mohamed Saleh, Hourig Sourouzian)

The man, whose head and neck we only see, is young, handsome, serene. His expression is full of responsibility, focused on the importance of the role he must assume in having this little princess under his care. But beyond that, we feel tenderness, a deep and sincere attachment to the child, and most certainly, a certain pride.

He wears a mid-length wig: “with horizontal stripes on the forehead freeing the ears and thrown back on the shoulders. The smooth headband, which was below, goes under the wig and appears at the top of the cheeks, in front of the ears. ” The face is rather round, the eyes and eyebrows are “long, curvy and protruding” and nicely worked. The ears, like the full lips, are well defined. The nose was hammered. The neck looks powerful.

Cube statue of Senenmout and Neferourê – grey granite

discovered in the Hiding place of Karnak, by Georges Legrain, December 30, 1904

recorded in the Journal des Entrées of the Cairo Museum – JE 37438bis – CG 42114

As for the rest of the morphology of the two characters, it disappears, covered, enveloped by a garment on the front of which are traced hieroglyphic signs which have: “been largely hammered and restored”. Georges Legrain specifies that the horizontal text includes: “more than fourteen lines covering the front of the statue, from knees to tiptoes”.

We are facing Senenmout and Neferourê, bound in stone, for eternity …

Neferourê, whose name means “the beauty of the god Re”, is the daughter of the queen (who will become king) Hatshepsut and of Thutmose II. As Pierre Tallet explains to us: “Thutmose II had married Hatshepsut, according to a strong tradition of brother-sister marriage which particularly marks the beginnings of the XVIIIth dynasty … As part of this union, Hatshepsut gives birth to a daughter of name of Neferourê. “

Cube statue of Senenmout and Neferourê – grey granite
discovered in the Hiding place of Karnak, by Georges Legrain, December 30, 1904
recorded in the Journal des Entrées of the Cairo Museum – JE 37438bis – CG 42114

From the birth of the princess: “the faithful Ahmès Pen-Nekhbet and the former guardian of Hatshepsut, becomes ‘foster father’ of Neferourê”. It is later that this function will be entrusted to Senenmout. Senenmout, who was of modest origin, became, without doubt, one of the most famous personalities of the reign of Hatshepsut and this not only because he created the Djeser Djeserou – the “sublime of the sublime” – the magnificent temple of the queen which blooms in the rocky circus of Deir-el-Bahari!

The temple of Queen Hatshepsut – the Djeser Djeserou – designed by Senenmout,
flourishes in the rocky cirque of Deir el-Bahari (west bank of Louqsor)

In “Twelve queens of Egypt”, Pierre Tallet evokes it thus: “Senenmout, invested with the functions of intendant of the royal wife and tutor of the princess Neferrurê, obviously plays a very first role. has sometimes presented as the lover of the queen, which nothing can show, but it is undoubtedly a man of confidence who accompanied Hatshepsut most of his existence … “

He seems to have been: “promoted to the highest office to reach more than eighty offices or honorary titles, as the butler of Amun, governor of the queen or chancellor of the king of Lower Egypt”.

Cube statue of Senenmout and Neferourê – grey granitediscovered in the Hiding place of Karnak, by Georges Legrain, December 30, 1904recorded in the Journal des Entrées of the Cairo Museum – JE 37438bis – CG 42114 – photo of the museum

As to Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt, she gives us this analysis: “If he was a theologian, Senenmout did not forget that he embodied one of the most knowledgeable scientists of his time … Invested in all the functions of the kingdom, in Except the visible prerogatives of the sovereign, Senenmout never preceded his titles with the mention “scribe”, which is quite surprising for this priest of Maat. “

And yet, the “scribe” Senenmout would have, thus “created”, invented some of the hieroglyphics inscribed on his status; “signs that I made, according to the idea of my heart and by my own work,” he specifies. Thus, Étienne Drioton devoted a study to “Two cryptograms of Senenmout” reproduced precisely on this cube statue: “It is obvious that he composed them (these spellings) according to the current conventions of the cryptography of his period. Otherwise, they would have been perfectly unintelligible. In fact, by applying the principles recently brought to light from the enigmatic writing of the beginning of the New Kingdom, one can perfectly explain the figuration engraved on the right shoulder, like a monogram of the first name of Hatshepsut. ” Still according to Étienne Drioton, Senenmout “had devoted his ingenuity, of which, he was proud, to monogramming the names of his sovereign, a very Egyptian way of paying court to her”.

The cube statue of Senenmout and Neferourê – grey granite – JE 37438bis – CG 42114

presented in the General Catalog of Egyptian Antiquities in the Cairo Museum – n ° 42001-42138

“Statues and statuettes of kings and individuals” by Mr. Georges Legrain, Cairo, Printing office of the French Institute of Oriental Archeology, 1906

This grey granite statue, 1.30 m high, was found by Georges Legrain in the immense “Hiding place of Karnak”. The discovery took place precisely on December 30, 1904, “along the wall (west face), where the large Merenptah inscription is engraved”. The statue which was under the “embankments and rubble” was: “lying on the right flank, the head to the west, the base to the east”.

It was recorded in the Journal des Entrées of the Cairo Museum JE 37438 bis and referenced CG 42114. It is still exhibited there today.

It should be noted that, in a study published in BIFAO 76, Jocelyne Berlandini-Grenier identified seven other statues representing Senenmout and Neferourê. Among them, let us quote that very similar which is in Berlin, and that, very moving, just sketched “in the limestone of the djebel”, to Sheikh Abdel Gournah, in front of the TT 71, tomb of Senenmout: what message, what links thus affirmed, posted, for eternity!

Marie Grillot


General catalog of Egyptian antiquities in the Cairo museum – n ° 42001-42138 – Statues and statuettes of kings and individuals , by Mr. Georges Legrain, Cairo, Imprimerie de la Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale, 1906
Karnak Hideout Base , IFAO
Official catalog – Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Mohamed Saleh, Hourig Sourouzian, Verlag Philippe von Zabern, 1997
Treasures of Egypt – The Wonders of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Francesco Tiradritti
The treasures of ancient Egypt at the Cairo museum, National Geographic
12 queens of Egypt who changed history, Pierre Tallet, Pygmalion, 2013
“ Deux cryptogrammes de Senenmout ”, by Étienne Drioton, ASAE 38, 1938, p. 231-246
“ Senenmout, royal stolist, on a cube-statue with Néferourê ”, Berelandini-Grenier (Jocelyne), BIFAO 76 (1976), p. 111-132
Statue of Senenmout , Ägyptisches Museum Berlin – Nr. ÄM 2296
Lessons on Egyptian Art , Jean Capart, 1920, Liège, Impr. H. Vaillant-Carmanne

9 thoughts on “Senenmout and the little princess Neferourê

  1. Wow! What an incredible story! Thank you for posting another of Marie’s amazing Egyptian articles Aladin.

    I can’t help but think of two things, firstly the tip of an iceberg comes to mind where only one tenth is seen and the rest is hidden, much like Soul, Psyche.

    And the other thing that came to mind was remembering the first time I took a traditional Turkish bath where I sat enclosed with only my head poking out the top.

    Fascinating story which has intrigued me! Hope your weekend is going well. Love and light, Deborah.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. elainemansfield

    Another fascinating story in Egyptian history, opening more mysteries than ever. As I study Ma’at and dig deeper into other gods and goddesses, all the images we use in our class are from the Tombs or the Pyramid texts. Either in stone or papyrus. Lasting until now to reveal a few of the mysteries. This child is intriguing. Thank you for sharing her highness.

    Liked by 1 person

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