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    An Egyptian Sarcophagus

    21st Dynasty, Circa 1000 B.C.
    Painted carved wood
    71 inches high

    Most of the sarcophagus from the biblical 21st Dynasty originated from the two finds from Luxor during the late 1800's. Of priestly origin, this spectacular find is from the 21st Dynasty or Third Intermediate Period, a time of great political unrest. The Kingdom was disintegrating and the high priest in the Amun priesthood managed just about as much control as the pharaoh himself. Fortunately for posterity and the power of the priests, this period also produced art in the mummy form like no other time in Egypt. For the first time coffins were made for non-royalty and most survive in museums, rarely in private collections. After months of preparation, these sarcophagi became works of art in themselves. With the climate similar to what modern conservators use, the humidity and temperature of the desert have allowed these treasures to survive in remarkable condition, even after 3,000 years.

    The current example is a standing mummiform of painted, carved wood in two parts depicting a female figure, although the sarcophagus may have been altered to hold a male subject as the missing hands suggest. While in earlier times rectangular in shape, in the 21st Dynasty (circa 1,000 B.C.) the sarcophagus took on a human form. The chest is modeled in relief under the ends of the lappets, the face yellow, the hands originally in relief, now missing, with a multi-stranded necklace and red cross-over mummy braces, the rest of the body and sides painted with numerous divinities and wings, all on a yellow background. The figure on the lid appears to represent a female, though the only legible text denotes it was made for "an overseer of weavers" of the Temple of Amun and scribe called Pediaamun, perhaps her husband and possibly of Theban origin since the people mentioned would have been associated with the Temple of Amun at Karnak. This confirms the historical aspect of association with the Amun priesthood's power and the existence of such sarcophagi in this elaborate form.

    This sarcophagus would have been the outer layer of three that covered the body, all different, all richly detailed with motifs which would be replicated on papyrus scrolls. With the advent of the 22nd Dynasty all this changed, with the shape and decoration changing so abruptly as to suggest that a pharaoh made the revisions.

    At six feet high, this sarcophagus exhibits the classic Ancient Eghyptian artwork of the 21st Dynasty figures. The facial expression is detailed, the hair elements meant to resemble lapis lazuli, the hair of the gods, elaborate and decorative details that make this an iconic showpiece whether in a museum or a private collection.

    Exhibited at the Aegyptologische Institut Der Universitat Heidelberg 1981-1984.
    Exhibited at the San Antonio Museum until 2001

    The collection of Olof Arrenius, Esq.
    Sotheby's, London (1984)

    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2007
    13th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 7
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 10,024

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

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