Relief sculpture of Metjetji and his son Sabu-Ptah, 2375-2321 BC

Royal Ontario Museum, Canada

Sunk or bas relief, the technique used for this limestone carving is most often employed for sculpture decorating the exterior of monuments; thus, this fragment is probably from the facade of Metjetji's mastaba tomb. The Arabic word “mastaba”, meaning bench, refers to the massive rectangular structures found above many tombs in Egypt. This fragment is probably from the left side of the facade because he is looking toward the right.

Relief sculpture of Metjetji and his son, Sabu-ptah, Saqqara, Egypt, carved and painted limestone (collection: Royal Ontario Museum)

The treatment is delicate, and the details of the kilt and hair are elegant and precise. Such facial features as the corners of the lips are detailed. The tomb owner is depicted in large scale in the attitude of walking, his left leg forward. On his head, concealing his ears, is a long wig with fine locks, and he wears s short beard.

Detail of Metjetji from the Relief sculpture of Metjetji and his son Sabu-ptah.

He holds two emblems signifying his importance, a staff and a sceptre adorned with a papyrus umbel. His costume is particularly refined: kilt with fully pleated apron, bracelets, and a broad collar with many rows. The shapes of the relief, firmly outlined, are set deep in the stone and painted in colours of red, yellow, and black. A child is walking ahead, holding tightly to Metjetji's staff. He is represented on a smaller scale, to signify his lesser importance. And inscription explains he is Metjetji's "son whom he loves, Sabu-ptah.

Detail of Metjetji's skirt and scepter from Relief sculpture of Metjetji and his son Sabu-ptah.

Zoom in here to take a closer look at the finely detailed carving of the figures and hieroglyphs inscription.

Credits: All media
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