This seated model boat man, while not unusual, differs from the typical boat man figure in that he is not a working servant or oarsman. Sitting with knees drawn and wrapped in a white robe, his posture and clothing indicates a higher status; he could be either the boat owner or a participant of a ritual performance. His black, helmet-shaped wig, kohl-lined eyes, and red painted skin are characteristic of male grave good figures of the Middle Kingdom period.
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: 4 1/4 inches (10.8 cm)
Condition: Despite the paint chipped off of the top and back of the head, the nose and mouth, and from front, back and sides of the body, in good condition with no major cracks or breaks. Presented on a museum quality custom mount.
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.