Block statue of Hotep considers a remarkable artifact about the art of ancient Egypt, and also the statue of Amenhotep son of Hapu.
Egyptian art: the Block statue of Hotep
Block statues are a type of sculpture that was introduced late in the old kingdom but became popular in use during the middle kingdom.
They represent private individuals in a very compressed squatting position with the knees drawn up to the chin; the body is wrapped in a cloak that leaves only the head, hands, and sometimes feet exposed.
They were also popular during the art of ancient Egypt in the new kingdom, but with an innovation, which was adding the head of a small child protruding from the cloak. They were particularly used in the late period.
N.B. royalties were never portrayed through this kind of statuary; it was used exclusively for private individuals.
Why were statues sculpted in this form (this position)?
- Mass production in art.
- Provides a large surface area for inscriptions.
- This position was regarded by the ancient Egyptians as a respectable and comfortable seating position.
- Saves materials and shows fewer details thus avoiding breakage points.
- Represents an individual in the form of a guardian seated at the gateway of a temple.
- The squatting attitude shows the deceased ready to be reborn from the block which could represent the primeval hill, as the squatting or crouching position reminds as of the position of a fetus.
The statue itself
It is made out of limestone. It was discovered inside a chapel in the tomb of Hotep at Northern Saqqara in 1921.
It was discovered together with another one made out of black granite. (limestone – white, granite – black, which might represent day and night or life and death).
Hotep is represented wearing a straight hair wig leaving his ears exposed, maybe to facilitate listening to the prayers recited by his visitors.
His arms are crossed under his chin and resting on his knees. His legs are carved with full details except for the feet.
Ancient Egypt Art: Amenhotep son of Hapu
He was appointed as a scribe of recruits in the court of Amenhotep III at Thebes. He was also a priest and an architect.
His talents and devoted work entitled him to receive many promotions until he reached the title of “Director of all royal works”.
He became responsible of the royal constructions of the king in Karnak, Luxor and the Theban necropolis (the funerary temple of Amenhotep III and the two colossal statues in front of it, now known as the Colossi of Memnon as well as the king’s tomb at the Valley of the king’s).
Two of these statues were displayed at the great temple of Amon-Ra at Karnak and a third in the temple of Khonsu at Karnak.
He died in the year 34 of Amenhotep III’s reign. He was buried in his tomb at the southern end of Qurnet Murai on the western bank of Thebes.
Art of ancient Egyptians: Amenhotep son of Hapu as an old man
The statue is made out of gray granite. It was discovered by Le grain in 1901 to the north of the 7th pylon (court of the Cachette) of the temple of Karnak.
Here Amenhotep son of Hapu is represented in his old age, as a sage full of experience. He wears a long wig parted from the middle and held behind his ears.
His facial features represent his old age: bulging eyes, the hollow grooves under the eyes and the wrinkles around the mouth.
He is seated in a prayer’s attitude with his hands resting on his knees, wearing a long kilt tied under his chest with a knot. We can notice that the folds of fat under his chest have disappeared indicating his old age.
This statue was made for him at the age of 80, wishing him to reach the wise age of 100, as evident from the inscriptions written in his kilt (8th vertical column)