Statue of Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II in the Jubilee Garment
The reunification of Egypt under Mentuhotep II ushered in a new sense of
security throughout the country and established Egypt’s Middle Kingdom, an
era that was to become a golden age for artistic and literary creation and a truly
revolutionary period in regard to religion and royal ideology. The art of the
Middle Kingdom betrays a wide range of visual uses of the past and, although
the Memphite traditions of the Old Kingdom were briefly renewed, the kings
of the 11th Dynasty tended to favor the Theban traditions they had developed
during the First Intermediate Period.
Twenty-two statues of this type stood beside (but not in the shadow of) sycomore and tamarisk trees that lined the processional path through the forecourt of the mortuary temple of Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II at Deir el-Bahri. The rough, rectangular base was inserted into the ground. The king wears the traditional short mantle of the pharaoh's thirty-year jubilee festival (Heb Sed). In his fists were the now missing scepter and flail of Egyptian kings and the god Osiris, probably made of metal. The head on this piece wears the "red" crown of Lower Egypt. Although no head with the "white" crown of Upper Egypt was found, it is conceivable that the statues along the south side of the path wore the "white" Upper Egyptian crown, while the ones along the north side wore the "red" Lower Egyptian one. At some later time all statues from the forecourt were decapitated and broken up. Some bodies were buried close to their original places, others were moved around. Most of the heads are missing. Both the body and head of the Museum's statue were found in the area of the temple of Hatshepsut, which is adjacent to the Mentuhotep temple. It is not certain that the head really belonged to this particular body.
The style of the statue is intentionally archaic, presumably because Mentuhotep II was commemorated as the ruler who reunified the country after the First Intermediate Period, thus restoring Egypt to its original state as first created during the late Predynastic and early Dynastic PeriodThis life-size seated statue of the king Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II (names meaning: «The Lord of the rudder is Ra» and «Montu is satisfied») considered the reunifier of Egypt after the First Intermediate Period and the first king of the Middle Kingdom was discovered wrapped in fine linen in 1900 by Howard Carter inside the subterranean chamber of the mortuary complex of this king at Deir el Bahari (Thebes West). The king is represented seated on a cubic throne, wearing the Red Crown of Lower Egypt a short white cloak associated with the jubilee festival with the divine beard, the arms crossed and the hands that originally held the royal insignia, the crook, and the flail. The skin of the statue is painted in black color connected with the god Osiris with whom the king is identified.
Title: Statue of Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II in the Jubilee Garment
Accession number 26.3.29 Collection The Met Museum
Reign: Dynasty 11, Reign of Mentuhotep II
Date: 2051–2000 BC
Object name/Title Statue of Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II in the Jubilee Garment
Dimensions H. 252.9 cm (99 9/16 in.); W. 47.7 cm (18 3/4 in.); D. 43.7 cm (17 3/16 in.)
Medium Sandstone, paint
PLACES AND DATES
Place of Discovery Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Temple of Mentuhotep II
Period Middle Kingdom - 11th Dynasty