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Home > Auctions > 6th September 2022 > Egyptian Stela Representing a False Door

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LOT 0019

Estimate
GBP (£) 8,000 - 10,000
EUR (€) 9,560 - 11,960
USD ($) 9,740 - 12,180

Opening Bid
£7,200 (EUR 8,608; USD 8,770) (‡+bp*)

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Bid History: 0
EGYPTIAN STELA REPRESENTING A FALSE DOOR
MIDDLE KINGDOM, 11TH-12TH DYNASTIES, CIRCA 1991-1786 B.C.

A limestone stela fashioned as a simplified ‘false-door’ - a symbolic portal originally carved into or painted onto a tomb wall to allow the Ka (spirit) of the deceased to venture from his/her burial chamber and partake in offerings of food and drink; the raised torus border framing the central scene and texts still retaining traces of an alternating yellow, red and white block decoration, above the frame a cavetto-style cornice highlighted with similarly coloured vertical and horizontal bands; the deceased wearing a short white kilt with a prominently-pointed front, secured by a narrow belt, the free end of which projects from the waist, wearing a short black wig, his outstretched left arm with an open palm, a gesture of veneration, while his bent right arm points to his wife standing behind him; the wife’s left arm outstretched and her hand resting on his shoulder, while her right arm hangs down at her side and holds a long-handled bag(?), wearing a long white strap dress which leaves her breasts exposed; between the man and woman a simple offering table with a red-painted jar and two incense pots with long wicks (or kohl-pots with long-stemmed applicators); to the man’s right two sandals shown side on ‘floating’ above the baseline; the man standing before a rack with shelves, four incense cones to the top together with meat, vegetable, and fruit offerings; two tall tear-drop-shaped vessels painted red with white stoppers both supported on collared rings stands on the shelves; four sandals to the right of the rack, drawn as viewed from above, arranged vertically; above the pictorial scene three horizontal lines of hieratic text written in black ink on a yellow ground, the few signs that remain in the top register present the opening of an offering formula, invoking the king and the jackal god Anubis (with some of his epithets) to grant food offerings to the owner of the stela; mounted on a custom-made display stand. 20 1/2 x 12 3/4 in. (22.7 kg, 52 x 32.5 cm including stand).

PROVENANCE:
From the collection of Pierre Vérité, Paris, begun in the 1920s.
By descent, the collection of Claude Vérité, Paris, France.
Accompanied by an academic report by Egyptologist Paul Whelan.
This lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by AIAD certificate no.11282-189916.

LITERATURE:
See Dunham, D., Naga-ed-Dêr Stelae of the First Intermediate Period, London 1937, pls. XXIV no.2, XXVIII, no. 1, for vertical arrangements of 'loose' food offerings; Leiden Museum, inv.no. F 1937/12.1, for a provincial false-door stela; Semitic Museum, inv.no. 2354, for a provincial stela with 'floating' offerings.

FOOTNOTES:
One might wonder if the inclusion of the two groups of sandals (six in total) was especially important to the deceased - perhaps he was a leatherworker involved in their production. Overseers of sandal makers are attested at temple sites such as Abydos and Nag ed-Deir, and perhaps this modest stela belonged to a leatherworker under the supervision of just such an official.

CONDITION