“I am trustworthy, free of wrongdoing, established, one who does not associate with wrongdoers.”
Amunwahsu, a scribe from Egypt’s New Kingdom (ca. 1550-1070 BCE), appeals to passers-by to recite the sustenance script encasing his statue. The offering text assures divine reward to whoever recites it. Ancient Egyptians believed that each person possessed a complex soul that survived the body’s death but needed all the provisions of life on earth, protection provided by spells, and a physical representation to survive in the underworld. With approval from the Pharaoh, private individuals of status commissioned block statues like this one to reside in temples, signifying their continued participation in sacred rites and ensuring a channel for nourishment after death.
Reflecting Ancient Egyptians’ concern with eternity, this sculpture provides not only for the immortality of the individual it represents, but also in its very solidity and substantiality, ensures its own enduring presence. By providing a historical record of ancient Egyptian culture for subsequent civilizations, Amunwahsu truly fulfills his role as a scribe.
-Victoria Schmidt-Scheuber (Class of 2012), Mount Holyoke College
Global Perspectives: Exploring the Art of Devotion (February 9 - May 30, 2010)