The Metropolitan Museum: Hatshepsut Exposition

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There all forms artwork of around, each from different places and different time. When going to the Metropolitan Museum, one artwork that interested me the most, was the Large kneeling statue of Hatshepsut. This statue comes is one from ancient Egyptian art. There are many statues similar to this statue. You can find this statue in the museum as permanent piece, it accession number is (30.3.1) and currently can be found in the first flood under Egyptian Art, along with many other dedicated statues of Hatshepsut.

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It belong to the New Kingdom period, Dynasty 18. It was made during a joint reign of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III and dates back to ca. 1479–1458 B.C.. The artist is unknown but it is From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Senenmut Quarry, MMA and found in excavations, 1927–28. It is made from granite. Its dimensions, H. 261.5 cm (102 15/16 in.); W. 80 cm (31 1/2 in.); D. 137 cm (53 15/16 in.). It was credit line, Rogers Fund, 1929 and the accession number is 29.3.1, it is found along many other statues of Hatshepsut, the queen/first recorded pharaoh.

I not as feminist, but as a woman, found it very interesting that this Large Kneeling Statue of Hatshepsut, not only depicted a woman but also it was great in size. The Large Kneeling Statue of Hatshepsut was one of the first statues to represent a woman leader who was a pharaoh. She is the first female pharaoh to be shown as statue in Egypt, before her were all males. It was surprising for me to see this female statue to have what seems to be a fake large beard, yet she is not a male. They gave her the masculine features as the male pharaohs. This made me visually question what I was looking at, so I really the time understand and interpret the art. It shows that even though she’s a female, she is still just as strong and powerful as a man. 

She wears a neme headdress, shendyth-kilt, and has a beard that is not real because this is normal for Pharaohs of the time. Which means even though she was female pharaoh, she was represented in no way less than a male pharaoh which is very interesting to see how well represented and respected she was. Hatshepsut was orgionally a queen married to pharaoh, and then she ruled alongside Thutmose III. During her time it was a time of peace and prosperity. She brought this back and began reconstructed. There began a flourishing of art during her reign. The king is to be represented in statues as a young male king, which considered as the ideal an ideal king, when she became kin she built a temple dedicated to the god Amun, it was located in the west bank of the nile. 

The large kneeling statues kneeling especially with pot are offering to the god when he comes to the temple. They are large in size. A few years after her dead, he decided to erase memory of Hatshephsut, and so he broke the statue in the temple. She is massive which leads us to believe is made to be seen afar or even up close. Due to the texture of the granite its eyes are not very noticeable but it eyebrows, nose lips, and facial structure is, it is very realistic. There is a sense of symmetry in the way she made. 

From the observing the carving, one can come to the realization that she was made from a huge block of granite and due to lack of separation of parts of the artwork, such as the arms form the torso and the legs to legs, and even the vessel looks to be part of the hand. Her kilt and headdress can be shown by a series of linear lines. From the face and lips in specific, we can tell she is meant to look serious since there is a lack of emotion, there is no movement in the lip, it is a straight horizontal line, not unturned or downturned, it is expressionless. 

She has the breast of male, not emphasized. She was made very bulky, masculine, stiff, and back straight/ head looking straight forward with perfect posture. There seem to be two round offering vessels, one in each hand. This could be seen as her as being humble, and giving. From her kneeling with the round offering vessels in her hand and stillness of the statue, it used as an offering to the gods. Her body is well balanced and she has her toes bent, using her own body to hold her up with great posture. She her position resembles that of prayer. She is held up by her legs, preventing them from falling to the ground. 

This balance shows how well put together she is which was calming to her people as well as a good way to represent herself as high ruler. She was idealized to resemble a pharaoh as seen through the head dress, kilt, and fake beard. There is an inscription on the statue, on the base “Maatkare”, Hatshepsut is represented and the one who give Maat to Amun. Maat was the goddess of order, balance, and justice and when a king offers Maat to another god/deity that it was of the “guiding principle of his or her rule”.

This is very similar to the art of its time; it was not only one of multiple statues that I found dedicated to Hatshepsut. There were depictions of her in many different ways, from being seated differently, having no vessels in her hand, size, and even some not having the beard. These statues led to more female statues especially of female pharaohs that came after. Hatshepsut sculptures are similar to many other Egyptian arts, from mummy caskets to one of Egypt’s greatest tourist spots The Great Sphinx of Gizza, having multiple things in common such as the headdress, face carving, or even upright posture.

In the temple at Deir el-Bahri where she was founded, there were many other kneeling statues of Hatshepsut. She has two round offering vessels, called nu–pots. Each statue identifies them as offerings. The pieces of this statue were removed from the temple along with other Hatshepsut statues, these were then smashed into pieces by Thutmose III, Hatshepsut’s successor. The Large Kneeling Statue of Hatshepsut was brought to Metropolitan Museum where they put the pieces back together and kept it on display as permanent piece of Egyptian art.

Two features I find very important is the false beard and the vessel. The false beard let have a better understanding on the people. We can gather that regardless of their leader then they were a bit confused because though she is a female they depicted her a male, mot because they thought that she should be represented as a male, but because that is all they knew, and the male pharaoh before her were represented with beard as well. This not only lets us know that she a pharaoh, it tells us how the people she their kings as. It is also important because it marks new beginning statues after this one has Hatshepsut without the beard letting, her people see something new and sees the king in a different way without the beard. 

I also believe the offering vessels are important, because it part of her story. When look at this statue, I think of how she changed Egypt, how she rebuild Egypt and started new beginnings. I think of the temples she made for the gods, and the offerings she put in the temples. I think of someone who put a lot of effort into her dynasty. I believe that these two features tell her parts of her story, and also it leads one to question what they are looking at and the reason behind for the presentation of these features. By first glance you would not fully understand what his going on with statue until you take the time truly observe it, question it, learn on the history around it, and then you will figure it out, and I believe that the true meaning behind art, to see an notice the small details of art that make up the bigger picture. 

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