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Passport to the Past

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King Ny-user-ra

ca. 2390 BCE-2360 BCE
Old Kingdom (2686-2125 BCE)
32 1/8 x 9 3/8 x 15 3/8 in. (81.6 x 23.8 x 39.1 cm)

Unknown, Egyptian
Egyptian

Object Type: Sculpture
Medium and Support: Upper half of red granite; lower half of toned plaster
Credit Line: R.T. Miller Fund
Accession Number: 1942.54
Location: Currently on view
Link to this object

This figure of King Ny-user-ra wears a royal striped linen headdress and carries a mace—a symbol of power—in his right hand. His name means “the one who belongs to the god Ra.” Ra, one of the earliest and most powerful Egyptian gods, was associated with the sun. The sculpture was probably buried in the King’s tomb to serve as the repository for Ny-user-ra’s ka, or life force.

[Gallery label text, 2009]

The Memorial Art Gallery’s bust of an Egyptian king of the Old Kingdom was unidentified until Bernard Bothmer, a prominent Egyptologist, realized that the Gallery’s sculpture matched the lower part of a statue in the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo. On the base of the Cairo portion, in front of the right foot, is a cartouche (see diagram) naming King Ny-user-ra, who ruled from 2390 to 2360 BCE. A plaster cast was made of this lower fragment and attached to the Gallery’s bust. The king wears a royal striped linen headdress and carries in his right hand a mace, a symbol of power. The red granite statue had been tossed into a refuse dump in ancient times at the Temple of Amon at Karnak, where this and other fragments were excavated in 1904. This is one of only two known portraits inscribed with Ny-user-ra’s name.

[Gallery label text, 2004]

Provenance
Vladimir G. Simkhovitch (1874-1959), New York; purchased from him by the Gallery in 1942

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Web Links See links to web pages and lesson plans
Odyssey Online In this award-winning website for students, play a matching game & discover the history of the two pieces of this statue--how the top half came to the Memorial Art Gallery, and how the bottom half was discovered in an Egyptian Museum.
MAGexplore MAGexplore provides in-depth information and close looking at over 200 objects in MAG's collection.
Cachette de Karnak Database of objects found in the cour de cachette at Karnak, which includes the base (at the Cairo Museum) and presumably also the bust (from MAG's collection).


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