Ankhy Seated at his Offering Table

Ankhy seated at his offering table
Dynasty 6, ca. 2323-2150 B.C.E.

"This relief was originally part of the decoration of a tomb chapel. It showed Ankhy, a high official and royal scribe, seated at this offering table. Only the upper part of his body and the chair back remain. Ankhy's left hand holds a small handkerchief; the right hand is stretched towards the offerings. Above his head is a fragment of an elaborate offerings list.

"Scenes of this type in the earlier part of the Old Kingdom (Dynasties 3 through 5) depicted tall narrow loaves of bread on the offering tables. By the time this relief was carved, artists had transformed the loaves into the hieroglyphic rendering of the Egyptian word for 'offering field,' showing upright reed plants. The offering field, according to Egyptian religion, was a place in the Beyond that provided all necessary sustenance to the deceased." (From the info card.)

The info card writer called what Ankhy is holding a 'folded handkerchief', but it looks more like a folded cloth (rope). This is seen in many images, including some Middle Kingdom statuary at the Met and a fragment at the Brooklyn museum:

"Seneb" = "health"

The only reference I can find to the meaning of the cloth or rope is that it "resembles the hieroglyphic sign for 'health.'" (Eternal Egypt: Masterworks of Ancient Art from the British Museum, by Edna R. Russmann, Thomas Garnet Henry James, British Museum; British Museum Press, 2001, page 138). Held in the hand as a rope, could it represent a 'lasso' to draw in energy, whereby the Ka could be better fed, thereby ensuring better health?