An Egyptian Model Boat Man, Middle Kingdom, ca. 2040 - 1786 B.C.

A standing boat man, with a black helmet-shaped wig, kohl-lined eyes, a white linen skirt, and the red-painted skin iconic of male figures from the period. The kohl lines and the naturalistic indentation of the waist make this figure stylistically unique, and the position of the hip attached to the missing leg indicates movement rather than a static standing position.

Background: Miniature boats form the largest single category of models found in the tombs of the Old and Middle Kingdom periods. Egyptian commerce centered around water transport on the Nile River, making boats invaluable commodities. Boats also played a major role in religion, because the gods used them to travel across the sky and through the underworld. Because boats were so important, they played a large role in funerary art. Grave goods were buried with the deceased in their tombs to equip the dead for living in the afterlife, including food, drink, commodities, and servants. Model boats gave the deceased transportation as well as servants to man the boat. Often, model boats were found in pairs, one for travelling with the current north equipped with oars, and one for travelling against the current south equipped with a mast and sails, as replicas of the actual method of travel up and down the Nile.

Ref: Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto, New York: YThe Metropolitain Museum of Art (2015), pg. 222.

Ref: John H. Taylor and Nigel C. Strudwick, Mummies: Death and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt, Santa Ana: the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art (2015), pg. 179.

Dimensions: Height: 7 1/2 inches ( 19 cm)


Provenance: The Simonian Family Collection of Ancient Art, Switzerland, acquired in the 1960's and then by descent, legally imported into the USA in 2016.


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