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Relief of Mourning Women

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
New Kingdom funerals often featured female mourners wailing and gesturing dramatically. Although sometimes called “professional mourners,” more likely these local women joined the funeral procession to express solidarity and sorrow, and also to participate in a public event.

The sloppy carving and indistinct lines show that the sculptor of this tomb relief was relatively unskilled, but he did successfully convey how ancient women demonstrated grief by throwing dust on their heads and even falling to the ground. The different shapes of the figures indicate different ages.
MEDIUM Limestone, remains of pigment and stucco
  • Possible Place Made: Saqqara, Egypt
  • DATES ca. 1319–1204 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY late Dynasty 18 to early Dynasty 19
    PERIOD New Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS 11 7/16 x 16 1/4 x 2 13/16 in. (29 x 41.2 x 7.2 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Description: This small relief of a limestone panel of women mourning is carved in relief, meaning that the figures project forward, off the flat background. The carving style is characteristic of the New Kingdom in which women are depicted performing a variety of mourning gestures with wailing expressions. The womens’ eyes bulge and their mouths are downturned in a frowning, mourning expression. Some women are depicted throwing dust over their heads and others fall to the ground in sorrow. Nine women are depicted mourning and throwing dirt over their heads in the background. Two women fall to the ground in mourning with a hand over their head in the foreground. Condition: The only conservation report on the small limestone relief is from 2002 which states that the object is in good and stable condition. There are remnants of red pigment in the recessed areas and the surface is weather and abraded.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
    CAPTION Relief of Mourning Women, ca. 1319–1204 B.C.E. Limestone, remains of pigment and stucco, 11 7/16 x 16 1/4 x 2 13/16 in. (29 x 41.2 x 7.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.31E. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 37.31E_PS9.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 37.31E_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2014
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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