Tomb Relief: Female Attendants Clapping Hands

UnknownMiddle Kingdom, Dynasty 11, reign of Mentuhotep II, ca. 2049 BC - 1998 BC

Cincinnati Art Museum

Cincinnati Art Museum

In ancient Egypt, musicians performed regularly at religious rituals and festivals in temples and palaces, at banquets, and in military and funerary processions. This relief, depicting a train of female singers or dancers forming part of a larger musical procession, decorated the corridor of the tomb of Queen Nefru, wife of the Eleventh Dynasty Egyptian king Mentuhotep II (ca. 2049–1998 B.C.). Each performer, shown clapping hands, wears a white sheath dress and a broad floral collar. Each wears a long wig, locks pulled forward to rest on the chest in the favored style of the period. The ornamental strings of large round beads attached to the hair are distinctive features of this scene; traces of white paint on these ornaments suggest that they were meant to represent silver. Actual strands of such beads, hollow balls in precious metal separated by spacer beads, have been found in tombs dating to this period. The style of carving on the relief, with figures deeply recessed in intaglio, is typical of the Eleventh Dynasty. The Cincinnati fragment retains much of its original painted decoration: black for the wigs, yellow for flesh tones, and blue, red, and green for the floral collars.

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  • Title: Tomb Relief: Female Attendants Clapping Hands
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: Middle Kingdom, Dynasty 11, reign of Mentuhotep II, ca. 2049 BC - 1998 BC
  • Location: Deir el-Bahri, Thebes, Egypt
  • Physical Dimensions: object: 12 1/2 x 11 x 1/2 in. (31.7 x 27.9 x 1.2 cm); object with mount: 13 13/16 x 12 3/16 x 1 5/16 in. (35.1 x 31 x 3.4 cm)
  • Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Joan Stark in memory of Louise J. Roth
  • Accession Number: 1998.54
  • Type: Relief/Sculpture
  • Medium: Limestone with polychrome decoration


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