Art in ancient Egypt includes a lot of scenes on temples, statues, and masterpieces. Among these masterpieces, we are going to talk about 2 statues of Goddess Sekhmet and King Mentuhotep II, which are displayed now at the Egyptian Museum.
Who is goddess Sekhmet?
Sekhmet was one of the most important goddesses of the ancient Egyptian pantheon. Her name means “the mighty one or the powerful one.
Titles & Epithets
She was given so many titles and epithets, the most famous of which are:
Beloved of Ptah, holy one, a powerful one, great lady, and great of magic, a title which she shared with Isis.
Her wide knowledge of magic enabled her to be a goddess of healing in other words; it gave her place in the service of healing.
This is clearly understood from the legend of the destruction of mankind, according to which she used to kill the people and drink their blood.
Iconography (way of representation)
She was mostly represented as a woman with a lioness head wearing a uraeus on her forehead. Her head is usually surmounted by the sun disk which associated her with Ra.
Nature & Characteristics
Both her name and her physical description reflect her character. She was well known by her violence, power, and great fiery.
She was worshiped as a goddess of war. She accompanied the kings to battles and was described as their mother. She spread terror everywhere and breathes fire against the king’s enemies.
She was connected with the fire spitting uraeus of the king. Her flames and the heat of her body which are derived from the sun, burn the bodies of the enemy soldiers.
Sekhmet was connected with Isis for both goddesses were known for their wide knowledge of magic and they both shared the title “great of magic”.
Egyptian art: description of the statues
Here we have two identical statues of goddess Sekhmet. They are made out of black or gray granite which was quarried from Aswan.
The statues were found in the destroyed temple of Mut which lies to the south of the great temple of Amon-Ra at Karnak. They are two of hundreds of statues that were set up there by Amenhotep III.
This was probably to indicate and emphasize the corresponding relationship between Sekhmet and Mut, who formed the female members in the two important triads of Memphis, Egypt’s old capital and important cult center and Thebes the new kingdom capital.
Also, both of them were worshiped as divine mothers for the kings of Egypt. In these two statues goddess Sekhmet is represented as a woman with a lioness head surmounted by the sun disk and a uraeus on the forehead.
She is wearing a long tight dress with a broad collar, bracelets, and anklets. She is shown seated on a low-back chair.
Egypt art: statue of Mentuhotep II
This statue was discovered by chance at “El Deir El Bahary” in 1900 when “Howard carter” was riding his horse at the site and it tripped on a block of stone which gave access to an underground room inside which this statue was placed.
That’s why it is known as “Bab El Hossan”. At the time of discovery, the statue was wrapped in linen. It is made out of sandstone which was brought from “Gebel el-Selsela” and then it was painted in black color.
It is a life-size statue representing the king seated on a backless throne and his hands crossed on his chest and this position is called “Semi Osiride Position”.
He once held two objects or royal insignia namely “the crook hqa” and the flail “nxxa” but they are now maybe because he was from the south and he wanted to satisfy the northern people and to show his full control on Egypt.
He is painted in white color. He is wearing the upturned beard, which was symbolic of the dead or god Osiris.
The rest of the body is not provincial art that was spread during that time and there is another theory that says that the king might have suffered from a disease called “Elephantiasis” although this theory is not very widely accepted because he was a great warrior king so it could not have been possible for him to accomplish these deeds.
Theories for the black color
1- Color of death in ancient Egyptian civilization.
2- One of the characteristic colors for god “Osiris” (as well as green and white).
3- Color of the black land “kmt”
4- Maybe that was his original color as he was originally from the south.