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Stela of Pakhaas

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Egypt Reborn: Art for Eternity, 19th Dynasty to Roman Period, Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Gallery, 3rd Floor

The central vignette here features a unique combination of two types of stela illustration. Normally the deceased is shown offering to Osiris, lord of the underworld, or to another deity. Alternatively, the deceased and his or her spouse receive offerings from their family. At first glance, the stela seems to fit the second category. The dead person, Pakhaas, accompanied by his wife, Nesihor, who stands behind him holding a sistrum, or rattle, enjoys the oblations of his son, Pakhy (a nickname, in effect, Pakhaas, Jr.).

This scene, however, is hardly conventional. Pakhy's censer and Nesihor's sistrum rarely appear in scenes of offerings to humans, and Pakhaas is not depicted as a mortal. The small image of the god Osiris that sits on his knees indicates that Pakhaas has become that god. Pakhy thus becomes Horus, who offers to his dead father, Osiris, and Nesihor is Isis.

MEDIUM Limestone, painted
  • Possible Place Collected: Thebes, Egypt
  • DATES 2nd-1st century B.C.E.
    PERIOD Ptolemaic Period
    DIMENSIONS 14 3/4 x 10 5/8 x 1 5/8 in. (37.5 x 27 x 4.2 cm)  (show scale)
    ACCESSION NUMBER 71.37.2
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Stela of Pakhaas, 2nd-1st century B.C.E. Limestone, painted, 14 3/4 x 10 5/8 x 1 5/8 in. (37.5 x 27 x 4.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 71.37.2. Creative Commons-BY
    IMAGE installation, West Wing gallery 8 installation, CUR.71.37.2_wwg8.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2006
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Round-topped limestone stela. The top portion is decorated with a curved sign of heaven above a sun-disk with down-curved wings. Suspended from the disk are two cobras representing Wadjet and Nekhbet. Facing them are two jackals. Part of the original gilding is preserved on the sun disk; the sky was painted blue; traces of red are preserved on the disk's wings. The jackals are recumbent upon a base line below which is a horizontal sign of heaven. Traces of blue paint with red stars are preserved in this sign. Below, in a rectangular field flanked by was scepters are three figures. To the left, facing right, stands a woman holding a sistrum. She is the mother of the deceased who is shown in the center, facing right towards his son, separated from him by a table with offerings. The son offers incense and a liquid to his father. Figure of Osiris upon lap of deceased. Condition: Chipped in upper left corner; small chips here and there. Diagonal gouge in lines three to five of main text. Much of the original paint and gilding preserved on the figures and their jewellery.
    RECORD COMPLETENESS Best (91%)
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