Statue of Seti I


Statue of Seti I
Dynasty 19, reign of Seti I (ca. 1294-1279 B.C.E)
Probably from Abydos, based on inscription
Granodiorite, H. 114.5 cm (45 1/16 in); w. 35 cm (13 3/4 in); d. 75.5 cm (29 3/4 in)
Rogers Fund, 1922, MMA 22.2.21

(From the info card):
"This statue, depicting Seti I kneeling to dedicate offerings to Osirus and other gods of the Thinite nome, was probably one of the group he planned for the temples that he built at Abydos. The facial features of the piece echo and further refine those of the great Dynasty 18 ruler Thutmose III. The high quality exhibited by this statue is typical of the art and architecture of the reign of Seti I. Portions of the head and torso are restored."

Peter Brand gives further information:
"This black granodiorite statue represents the monarch kneeling and presenting a table of offerings supported by a papyrus blossom. Much of the table, along with the king's arms and shoulders, is now missing. The head was found broken off, and large portions of the right side of the faces and both sides of the nemes-headdress are lost.

"Sourouzian would assign this statue to an intermediate phase in the sculpture of the king, earler than the Dallas bust, and the differences in style between the two sculptures are slight, and they are more than likely contempory works, possibly by different hands. If much of the statuary for this and other temples was begun rather late in the reign as construction of the building neared completion, which Sourouzian herself posits, then they are probably more or less contemporary. The piece appears to be a companion to a fragmentary statue now in Sorrento. The table of the latter is supported by a lotus stalk, both sculptures being identical in their scale, iconography and material."
(From _The monuments of Seti I_ By Peter James Brand, page 172.)

The papyrus blossom is more than decorative. The use of papyrus plant is suggesting empowerment, as of upwards rising sap which flows from the root of the plant to its branches, (similar to that implied in the Was scepter). It is interesting to examine what remains of the front:


Detail view from front
Although it is quite damaged, we can still make out the 'neheh':


A "cyclic eternity" of "perpetual renewal" ((Traunecker trans. David Lorton,_The Gods of Egypt_, page 37)

Quoting Wikipedia, (which I wouldn't ordinarily do, but the page on Seti I gives footnotes):

"Upon his ascension, he took the prenomen mn-m3t-r, which translates as Menmaatre in Egyptian, meaning "Eternal is the Justice of Re.."[6]
6. ^ Peter Clayton, Chronicle of the Pharaohs, Thames and Hudson Ltd, 1994. p.140

Ma'at is a bit more complicated concept than 'justice', although justice does figure into the sense of balance and truth which is the underpinning of Egyptian philosophy.

Also 'eternal' is a bit more complex than our limited English language. Egyptians had two concepts of 'eternity'. As Traunecker explains, the concept of Neheh (cyclical futurity) corresponds to Re while the concept of Djet (unchanging futurity) corresponds to Osiris. Neheh has all to do with the rising sun, beginnings and perpetual renewal.

Seti I is expounding on his prenomen, declaring that he will set forth actions which will perpetually renew Ma'at, (truth, balance and justice). I wish we could see what was above the neheh hieroglyph, was it an image of Ma'at?