Relief of a pharaoh

A wall relief made up of four rectangular blocks, which, given the size of the figures, those of the hieroglyphs and the technique of bas-relief, was created for a temple or open-air chapel. This technique made it possible to see the images in greater detail at moments of strong atmospheric light. For this reason it can be supposed that this piece was to be found in the exterior section of a building.

The iconography shows a male figure, a pharaoh, between columns of hieroglyphic text, of Meroitic script. These are not Egyptian hieroglyphs. In ancient Nubia the writing was totally different from that in Egypt and this text has not been able to be translated as the number of written documents in this script is greatly inferior to the written documents from the Nile civilization.

It is a piece where we find a mixture of cultures and styles. It was produced at the time of the Roman domination of Egypt and the Nubian zone, but displays a character particular to this southern kingdom. The pharaoh is represented without either the Roman or the Egyptian stylization and canons of proportion. The figure looks almost as if he suffers from elephantiasis: the head is extremely large, the arms short and the legs wide. This stylization is similar to that seen in Nubian art under Egyptian influence.

The figure is shown next to the head of a horse. He wears a uraeus across the forehead, earrings – not common to see this type of adornment on a pharaoh - and also a “menat style” collar over his breast. He is also wearing a pleated tunic that covers the shoulders and the forearms, then falling to be tied around the pelvis and falling to the knees but leaving the stomach uncovered.

Both arms reach forward and are slightly raised in sign of prayer and to make an offering. The right hand is free but the left is holding a vegetal branch of sorts on which a lotus flower can clearly be seen. A type of basket, also full of lotus flowers, hangs from his left forearm. In Egyptian iconography the pharaoh usually holds a “nu” offering, rather than flowers or other elements.

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