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Statue of Shebenhor

A work made of basalt.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of basalt.


Late Period, Dynasty 26 (664-525 BCE)


Egyptian; Memphis, Egypt

About this artwork

How do you define a portrait? While we might think of portraits as capturing an individual’s likeness, for the non-royal Egyptians whose statues appear in this case, it was the addition of a name in hieroglyphs that identified them; their facial features and fashion were determined by contemporary styles. The inscriptions on the front and back of the statue on the upper left distinguish it as a representation of a man named Shebenhor. He sits with his knees drawn up in front of him and his hands on his lap, a compact pose ideally suited for display in crowded temple courtyards, where it would have been less susceptible to breakage than standing or seated versions while also providing a flat surface for visitors to place offerings. Statues like this one acted as proxies for the people they depicted, allowing their souls to benefit from the prayers and rituals performed in the sacred space around them.


On View, Gallery 50


Arts of Africa


Ancient Egyptian


Statue of Shebenhor


Egypt (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

664 BCE–525 BCE




Front: “A gift the king gives and that Osiris the Great gives [to] Bastet the Great, Mistress of Bubastis, that she might give offerings from Upper Egypt and provisions from Lower Egypt to the ka of the one revered before Atum, Lord of Kaheref, Shebenhor, justified, son of Hedeb-Hapi-ir-bin, born of Iachays-nakht.” Back: “A gift the king gives [to] Bastet the Great, Mistress of Bubastis, that she might give invocation offerings consisting of bread, beer, oxen, fowl, and every good thing to the ka of the one revered before Atum, Lord of Kaheref, Shebenhor, justified.”


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

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. George L. Otis

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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