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Haremhab compared to Queen Hatshepsut

Compare the statue of Haremhab with the statue of Queen Hatshepsut
These two statues are famous to the Egyptian art era. They represent the womans position and the mans position at that day and age. Traditionally, the rulers of Egypt were male. So, when Hatshepsut, Dynasty 18, ca. 1473-1458 B.C., assumed the titles and functions of king she was portrayed in royal male costumes. Such representations were more for a political statement, rather than a reflection of the way she actually looked. In this sculpture, she sits upon a throne and wears the royal kilt and the striped nemes (NEM-iss) headdress with the uraeus (cobra) and is bare chested like a man. However, she does not wear the royal beard, and the proportions of her body are delicate and feminine.

A sense of royal dignity, composure, and stability are created by the facial expression, the fixed pose, and the rectangular throne and high base from which the proportioned and frontal figure emerges. Cracks in the face, neck, and torso indicate ancient damage sustained by the sculpture.

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Haremhab was a royal scribe and generalissimo of the army under King Tutankhamun or Aya, Late Dynasty 18, 1327-1323 B.C. He continued to serve during the reign of Aya, and then became king himself. This statue was made before he ascended the throne. Haremhabs own choice to be represented as a scribe indicates the importance of literacy in Egypt; it also puts Haremhab in an age-old tradition of depicting a great official as a “wise man,” that is, a scribe.

He sits slightly hunched over, and his eyes look downward, but not as far down as the papyrus scroll on which he is composing a song to the god Thoth, patron of scribes. The ink palette is on Haremhab’s left thigh, and his right hand, which is now missing, once held the brush. The hieroglyphs on the scroll face the writer, and you can see how Egyptians unrolled a papyrus with the left hand while reading and writing. As a badge of office Haremhab has a strap slung over his left shoulder from which hang two miniature writing kits, one on the chest, the other on the back of the shoulder. To proclaim loyalty to the newly reinstalled traditional religion, Haremhab has a figure of the god Amun incised on his forearm, perhaps indicating a tattoo.

Haremhab has wrapped a long, wide pleated sash around the lower part of his body. The sash has been tied at the waist and the long ends have been looped back to tuck under the tie. The shawl has been carefully pleated. The figure’s buttocks, thighs, and knees are covered with the linear pleat pattern, which contrasts with the smooth, round forms of the upper torso, arms, and the lower portion of the legs. A similar distinction is achieved between the carefully modeled facial features and the richly patterned wig.

The sculptor managed to instill a sluggish pose with tension and strength. Similar outcomes were obtained in the head and face by contrasting the youthfully rounded facial features and heavy-lidded eyes of a thinker with an angular, almost harshly cut jaw and chin. Despite its elegance and beauty, this is without a doubt the image of a man of action to be reckoned with.

The base is inscribed with additional religious texts: prayers to Thoth, Sakhmet, Ptah Sokar, and Osiris. The concluding two gods are connected with death and rebirth, and it has been suggested that the statue was originally created for Haremhab’s civilian tomb at Saqqara.
I think that the statues are similar yet very different. They both seem to have the symbolic headdress. They are both seated upon a throne-like structure. They both have hieroglyphics engraved in their statues or their thrones. It was odd to see the similarities between two rulers, and that one was a woman. I did not expect a woman to have that much power back then for her to be portrayed as a king. Simply because times were extremely different. I enjoyed the museum visit, and never realized how many similarities there were between the two.


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