Haremhab Compared to Queen Hatshepsut

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Compare the statue of Haremhab with the statue of Queen Hatshepsut

These two statues are famous to the Egyptian art era. They represent the woman's position and the man's position at that day and age. Traditionally, the rulers of Egypt were male. So, when Hatshepsut, Dynasty 18, ca. 1473-1458 B.C., assumed the titles and functions of king she was portrayed in royal male costumes. Such representations were more for a political statement, rather than a reflection of the way she actually looked. In this sculpture, she sits upon a throne and wears the royal kilt and the striped nemes (NEM-iss) headdress with the uraeus (cobra) and is bare chested like a man. However, she does not wear the royal beard, and the proportions of her body are delicate and feminine.

A sense of royal dignity, composure, and stability are created by the facial expression, the fixed pose, and the rectangular throne and high base from which the proportioned and frontal figure emerges. Cracks in the face, neck, and torso indicate ancient damage sustained by the sculpture. Haremhab was a royal scribe and generalissimo of the army under King Tutankhamun or Aya, Late Dynasty 18, 1327-1323 B.C. He continued to serve during the reign of Aya, and then became king himself. This statue was made before he ascended the throne. Haremhab's own choice to be represented as a scribe indicates the importance of literacy in Egypt; it also puts Haremhab in an age-old tradition of depicting a great official as a "wise man," that is, a scribe.

He sits slightly hunched over, and his eyes look downward, but not as far down as the papyrus scroll on which he is composing a song to the god Thoth, patron of scribes. The ink palette is on Haremhab's left thigh, and his right hand, which is now missing, once held the brush. The hieroglyphs on the scroll face the writer, and you can see how Egyptians unrolled a papyrus with the left hand while reading and writing. As a badge of office Haremhab has a strap slung...
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