Painted Wooden Servant Statue of Niankhpepikem

Artefact Details

Gallery number: 47 – Ground Floor

Period: Old Kingdom (ca. 2345–2181 BC)

Dynasty: 6th Dynasty 

Place of discovery: Meir, Excavated for the EAS (Egyptian Antiquities Service) in 1894

Size: H. 36 cm

Material: Painted Wood

Striding statue of the porter, Niankhpepikem (“servant of Niankhpepi”), carrying a back pack (perhaps a medical bag) and a basket. The forward motion indicated by the stride illustrates his eternal portering service for his master, Niankhpepi, in whose tomb this figure was placed for such purpose. The figure of the servant is simple but well executed, dressed in a simple sheath kilt and wearing his hair, or perhaps a wig, neatly dressed in horizontal rows of short braids or twists radiating from the crown of the head. His load features a unique rendition of an ingenious carrying arrangement for one arm – a strap is attached to the right side of the pack and then is passed over the front chest and wraps tightly around the bent left arm help balance the load. The intricate decoration and bright colors of the pack and basket provide a colorful contrast to the simple figure. The pack features a leopard skin design bordered in red, white and green. The legs are pointed, a curious shape for resting the pack on the ground – perhaps they were driven into soft ground or sand to ensure stability. The basket with a colored diamond design, carefully rendered in black, white, yellow, and blue/green, has a handle; yet, our porter chooses to balance it on his right palm. Statuettes such as these were placed in tombs to ensure that the owner would enjoy all the creature comforts, such as servants, in the Afterlife as he or she had in this life – one wonders what the servants thought about this.