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Stele of Lady Taperet, Third Intermediate Period, 22nd Dynasty, 10th or 9th century BC, painted wood.
This small wooden stele is exceptional in many ways. Both sides are painted and in good condition, and each one is a complete composition combining traditional elements and artistic innovations. Each side features an image of Lady Taperet praying to different aspects of the sun: Ra, the sun at its zenith, on one side; and Atum, the setting sun, on the other.
Here, the deceased, Lady Taperet, stands before the falcon-headed Ra-Horakhty, symbolizing the sun at its zenith. The god is shooting rays of flowers at her. The other side depicts Atum, the setting sun, receiving Taperet’s prayers.
Through the images on the stele, Lady Taperet is linked to the eternal cycle of the sun and its daily resurrection. The beneficent effects are illustrated by the rays of flowers flowing from the sun disk and illuminating the deceased’s face; this is an unusual image. She is offering Ra a table laden with dishes, while the hieroglyphs behind her back guarantee “thousands of loaves of breads, beer, meat, and poultry,” for her, according to a thousand-year-old formula by which humans could receive eternal sustenance. The bright colors and abundant details are also found on other elements of Theban funerary furniture, particularly sargophagi, from the Third Intermediate Period. (x)
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