About This Artwork

Egyptian

Statue of Shebenhor, Saite Period, Dynasty 26 (664–525 B.C.)

Basalt
28 x 13 x 16.3 cm (11 x 5 1/8 x 6 3/8 in.)

Gift of Mrs. George L. Otis, 1924.754

An ancient Egyptian named Shebenhor placed this statue in a temple as a substitute for himself. The figure was expected to absorb the prayers and offerings of the temple and pass them on to the deceased for eternity. Prayers carved on the figure ask the gods to sustain him during his life after death. The piece is also inscribed with the owner’s name, so that the gods would identify him in the afterlife. Permanence was Shebenhor’s aim, and his hope is being fulfilled. Indeed, the statue’s compact pose and dense stone have helped it endure for twenty-six hundred years, and counting.

— Exhibition label, When the Greeks Ruled: Egypt After Alexander the Great, October 31, 2013–July 27, 2014, Gallery 154.


Shebenhor’s heavy, round “bag wig” was fashionable at the time this statue was carved. The splayed toes, broad shoulders, and exaggerated narrowness of the waist are also characteristic of Egyptian statues of this era. Statues of individuals were placed in temples to maintain a connection between the dedicator and the god. The statue was capable of eternally transferring the blessings of the god to the individual.

—Permanent collection label




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