An unknown artist created the Statue of an Offering Bearer in 1981-1975 BCE (acc. no. 20.3.7). The sculpture was found in a hidden chamber in the tomb of the royal chief steward Meketre (museum label). Offering bearers were placed in tombs and would represent estates that would provide the spirits with sustenance. Statue of an Offering Bearer depicts a young woman wearing an elaborate dress and jewelry standing with her left foot forward.
Her left hand is balancing a basket full of meat on her head. In her right hand she is holding a live duck by its wings. The statue is smaller than life size, standing at four feet tall. The statue was carved out from wood using a subtractive method. Gesso, a primer and paint were used to decorate the wood, adding add details and color. The statue is in remarkable condition. The only signs of deterioration on the statue are the crack in the woman’s left foot and worn and peeling paint are the only signs of deterioration on the statue.
In ancient Egypt the ideal figure was the god like king. He is eternally young and his eyes are usually focused in the distance as if he is focusing on focusing on eternity. Additionally, most ancient sculptures have faces that are expressionless. This is because they are not made to show personality they aren’t to show eternity. His body is youthful. It is muscular and athletic. Its simplified and not very detailed. They take a human feature and make it divine. (notes)
It is usually static and formal and without motion, kings were made out of stones.
The statue is stepping forward on her left leg. A moment in time is captured here. The statue is moving forward. An additional way to look at is the women’s weight is evenly distributed between her two legs. She is balanced and so is the basket on her head. Usually in ancient Egyptian art when ones leg is forward it looks as though all the statues weight is on one leg. In Greek art the weight is distributed evenly. (notes)
Methods and Materials: This freestanding sculpture was carved out of wood. The wood was carved out in a subtractive matter. The wood is covered in gesso, which is something that acts as a plaster and primer for paint. Paint is used on top to give detail, color and depth to the statue. This natural median of wood senses a natural message through the statue. They allude to the natural sustenance that this offering bearer is bringing to the deceased.
Composition: This statue is both symmetrical and asymmetrical. The woman’s face and body are symmetrical yet; her arms and legs are asymmetrical. Her right leg is out straight and her leg is stepping forward. Her right arm is straight down holding a live duck by its wings. Her left hand is bent upwards holding and stabilizing the basket of meats that is balanced on her head. The basket that is on top of her head is a symmetrical shape. Additionally, the duck itself is symmetrical.
From the shape of the woman’s body it seems as though she was carved out from a long cylinder of wood from a tree. Additionally, the statue is standing on a rectangular base. It looks like the duck and the basket were made separately and later attached as then don’t seem to be part of the woman’s body. Figures like the duck and the basket stick out from the basic shape of the woman’s body.
This statue gives off a strong sense of balance. The basket is balanced evenly on the woman’s head. The woman’s weight is balanced and distributed evenly between her legs.
The woman’s body has her clothes and jewelry painted on it. There is no separation between her body and clothes, which make the curves of her body well defined.
Lines: The lines and curves of the young woman’s body are natural. She is tall and slender. She has long legs, arms and a long torso, depicting an ideal body. Her arms are placed in a very natural way. Her hips, chest and stomach are made of very ordinary horizontal curves. The young woman’s body as a whole predominantly composed of vertical lines. Her torso, right arm and leg are strong vertical lines. Her left leg is stepping forwards and is made of a vertical line on a slight angle. The woman’s left arm is bent upwards and it is composed of diagonal lines.
The woman’s dress and jewelry is comprised of horizontal and vertical patterns. Her headpiece is created using curved vertical lines. The lines the artist used to create this statue add meaning and depth to this piece. They add life and movement tot the statue. All of these lines draw attention to the natural build of the woman’s body. The natural lines that her body is composed of gives a sense on movement to the statue.
Movement is also seen in the stance of the woman. It is as if she is stepping of forward, a moment has been captured. Offering bearer statues in ancient Egypt were used to represent different estates from which sustenance was brought to the deceased. Knowing the background of these statues it looks like this young lady is representing and estate that has produced sustenance and is on her way to present it to the deceased.
Light: The artist considered the effect of light while creating this work. The box that is balanced on the young woman’s head casts a shadow on her head. This shadow enhances the light that is directed at the woman’s face. The formal device of light enhances the young woman’s face making it the focal point of the piece. Her face is lit up and her expression, emotion and natural beauty are able to shine through.
Her eyes are open wide and looking off into the distance yet at the same time focused. She is focused on her ‘task’ head, bringing substance to the spirits. on what she is doing. Her Additionally, a shadow is seen on the basket from the way the light hits the woman’s hand. Another shadow is obvious by where the woman is holding the duck. The shadow of the duck is found on her leg. This creates a sense of depth and movement for the woman.
Color and Texture: The wood carving of the statue is covered in gesso and paint. The woman’s face and skin that is not clothed was left with the natural color of the wood. The young woman is wearing traditional Egyptian clothes and jewelry yet they are very elaborate and detailed which indicates high status. The colors of the woman’s clothing and jewelry are yellow, green, blue and orange. These are all warm, bright, lively and beautiful colors. The duck in the woman’s right hand is painted in warm colors as well. The basket of the finest meat on top of the woman’s head is painted in darker colors. These darker color the lifelessness of the meat. The unpolished finish look of the wood shows the naturalness of this statue.