Egyptian Limestone Fragment with a Seated Male

£ 2,500.00

A fragment of an Egyptian limestone panel, carved in sunken relief. It depicts the seated legs and lower torso of a man, resting on a low-backed stool, which permeates the vast majority of the relief. Vivid pigment highlights some of the details of the fragment, including the clawed feet of the chair and the shendyt kilt worn by men. From the knees downwards, vibrant, rich burgundy has been used to indicate the tanned skin of the deceased. The status of the deceased can be ascertained from the chair he sits upon. A clawed example, possibly with lion’s feet, with a stylised lotus to the rear for added detailing. Chairs belonging to the elite and upper classes were elaborately styled, covered with animal skin and plant materials. A small remnant of burgundy paint sits at the top of the fragment, to the right side, before vanishing. This could be the end of a lotus plant, which commonly featured in such scenes, held to the nose of the deceased as the inhale the flower’s beguiling scent.

The reverse of the fragment is plain. Mounted on a custom-made stand. Measurements given below include the stand. The fragment alone measures 34cm length by 16cm height by 3cm width.

It is difficult to decipher with certainty what the fragment might have shown in its entirety. Analysis has been made by comparison of other examples available and presenting the most likely scenario.

Date: Circa 664 - 610 BC
Period: 26th Dynasty, Late Period
Provenance: Acquired in February 1989 by R. Jacobson, Astarte Gallery, Britannia Hotel, London. By descent to his son M. Jacobson. Ancient & Oriental acquired the pieces in 2023.
Condition: Very fine. Fragment of a much larger piece. Pigment still vivid. Mounted on a custom-made stand.


Product Code: ES-160
Category: Tags: , ,

Stela and reliefs, of which this is a fragment of, were commonly used throughout Egyptian history. Richly decorated, in sunken or high relief, they would feature specific formulas, designed to lead the deceased through the underworld and bestow blessings on them. The most typical formula, known as the ‘ḥtp-di-nsw’ offering formula would have certainly featured and we can ascertain that this small panel detailed such blessings. The three words, ‘ḥtp-di-nsw’, refers specifically to the transliterated three opening hieroglyphs of the formula, which evoked the gods on behalf of the deceased. Ḥtp-di-nsw can be translated as ‘an offering which the king gives’. The rest of the formula would have included the name of the deceased, any titles or epithets to the gods and an inventory of gifts. Most often, the stela would include an offering table, laden with the goods given. It was common for the deceased to be depicted either sitting or standing closeby. If seated, as in this example, the deceased would be sat on a small chair, facing the goods he is offering. Other figures, usually smaller in size, such as family members, may also surround the offering formula.

The offering formula in its entirety would follow this pattern:

Ḥtp-di-nsw – An offering which the king gives

ꜣsjr – Osiris (the most common god to appear, although Anubis and other gods are mentioned)

prt-ḫrw – a voice offering

ḫꜣ t ḥnḳt ḫꜣ kꜣ ꜣpd ḫꜣ šs mnḫt – a thousand (ḫꜣ) bread (t) and beer (ḥnḳt), a thousand ox (kꜣ) and fowl (ꜣpd), a thousand alabaster (šs) and linen (mnḫt)

ḫt nbt nfrt wʿbt – everything good and pure

ʿnḫt nṯr im – on which a god lives

n kꜣ n / imꜣḫ(w) – for the ka of / the revered one

[name of the deceased]

mꜣʿ-ḫrw – the justified

This is a simplified account of what may have been included on funerary stela and reliefs. Other scenes could depict the deceased surveying particular activities, known as watching scenes. The deceased would gaze over particular woks being done, from agricultural scenes to manufacturing. It was also common to see the elite carrying out activities, in particular hunting or fishing. Such scenes all indicated the prosperity and wealth of the deceased and his ability to provide in the offering scene. Stela were much more than just tomb markers but highlighted the accomplishments and blessings of their owner.

Dimensions L 35.6 x W 5.7 x H 18.3 cm

North Africa



Reference: For a similar, larger relief: The Metropolitan Museum, New York, item O.C.1271

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