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Block Statue of Senwosret-senebefny

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Old Kingdom to 18th Dynasty, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
Block statues show their subjects—almost always male—seated on the ground with their knees drawn to their chests; a cloak usually envelops the limbs and torso. The resulting block-like form gives these statues their name.

Block statues first appeared in the Twelfth Dynasty, nearly one thousand years after most statue types had been developed. Some Egyptologists suggest that the invention of such a distinctive sculptural form probably reflected the emergence of new religious ideas. The Twelfth Dynasty witnessed an increase in the belief that a non-royal person’s spirit could be reborn after death. Some scholars have suggested that the block statue represents the spirit as it emerges from a mound in the underworld at the glorious moment of rebirth.

Others see it as a demonstration of the intensification of personal piety that occurred during the period. Most early block statues were found in temples. Because the squatting pose in Egyptian art conveys submission, block statues are thought to depict men observing temple priests as they perform rituals for the gods, like obedient members of an eternal audience.
MEDIUM Quartzite
  • Place Made: Africa
  • DATES ca. 1836-1759 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY late XII Dynasty
    PERIOD Middle Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS 26 7/8 x 16 5/16 x 18 1/8 in., 359 lb. (68.3 x 41.5 x 46 cm, 162.84kg)  (show scale)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Old Kingdom to 18th Dynasty, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
    EXHIBITIONS
    ACCESSION NUMBER 39.602
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Block Statue of Senwosret-senebefny, ca. 1836-1759 B.C.E. Quartzite, 26 7/8 x 16 5/16 x 18 1/8 in., 359 lb. (68.3 x 41.5 x 46 cm, 162.84kg). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 39.602. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 39.602_front_PS9.jpg)
    IMAGE front, 39.602_front_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2015
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