Stele of Princess Nefertiabet and her food for the afterlife. Giza, Egypt. 4th Dinasty, 2600 BC.
Stele depicting Princess Nefertiabet and the food she would take with her to the afterlife. Steles representing the deceased's nourishment in the afterlife were a fundamental element of Egyptian funerary art and this is one, over 4500 years old, is definitely one of the most ancient and best preserved to reach our time.
The Stele was recovered from the wall of Nefertiabet's mastabah in Giza, at the foot of the great pyramid. Nefertiabet was a princess during the reign of Cheops, her father, and there is little doubt the best artists were called upon to decorate her tomb.
The stele's raison d'être was essentially practical: the images it featured (Nefertiabet's food and material possessions) were brought to life from the moment of its creation and for ever after, ensuring the princess eternal life and its attendant pleasures.
The princess faces rightward, as the inscription above her head (The king's daughter, Nefertiabet). She wears a panther-skin dress and sits on a stool with bull's feet to a table full of white bread with a golden crust. This same scene was reproduced thousands of times: the deceased's nourishment in the afterlife. A simple palette of colors—red, yellow, black, and green (now faded)—embellishes the extremely delicate relief work.
A double rectangle above the table contains the inscription of items such as cosmetics, drinks, and various delicacies. A large vertical panel on the right, divided into three sections, lists the many pieces of fabric offered to the princess. Finally, a number of ideograms used pictorially, in front of the princess's face and around the table, express the essential elements of the offering: "libation" (in front of her face), "lustration" before her chest, "leg of beef", "ribs", "duck", "linen", "crockery", "bread", "beer", "meat and poultry", "thousand", "thousand", "thousand!". The words here are an integral part of the image.
More amazing images from Ancient Civilizations one copy-paste away at https://weston-westmoreland.pixels.com/collections/ancient+civilizations
April 16th, 2020
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