Singers and Dancers

Limestone relief of dancers and singers
Old Kingdom, Dynasty 5, ca. 2504-2347 BCE
Limestone, H: 14 3/8, W: 11 in (H: 37cm, W: 28 cm)
Purchased in Cairo, 1920, OIM 10590

Photo ©Joan Ann Lansberry, 2010

(From museum info card):
"Music was often played in the company of dancers and singers. The two women to the left clap their hands to the music, while the dancer to the right raises one hand and places the other on her hip. The elaborate knot of fabric on the back of her dress identifies her as a member of a special group of professional dancers. The fragmentary text above the women reads "singing."

(From _Ancient Egypt: Treasures of the Oriental Institute_, by Emily Teeter, page 20):
"Scenes of singers and dancers are not uncommon in Old Kingdom tombs. This fragment from an unidentified tomb shows two women and the hands of a third figure to the far left. The women on the left clap their hands to keep time to the music, while the woman on the right raises on hand and places the other on her hip as she dances. The women wear short, rounded hairstyles and tight-fitting dresses with wide shoulder straps and broad collar necklaces. The woman to the right also wears a sash tied at her hip. This ornament is characteristic garb for members of a group of professional musicians called khener who were employed by the palace, temples, and funerary estates. Scenes of these performers are known from tombs as early as Dynasty 4 (ca. 2639 B.C.) where they dance in association with funerary offering rites or funerary processions. A scene of khener in the tomb of Neb-kau-hor at Sakkara is captioned 'beautiful dancing for your ka every day,' indicating that the dancers would perform for the deceased eternally in the afterlife."