Model of a procession of offering bearers ("The Bersha Procession")

The Bersha Procession

Egyptian
Middle Kingdom, late Dynasty 11 – early Dynasty
2010–1961 B.C.


Findspot: Egypt, Deir el-Bersha, Tomb 10, shaft A (Djehutynakht)

Dimensions

Length x width x height (tallest figure): 66.4 x 8.6 x 42.5 cm (26 1/8 x 3 3/8 x 16 3/4 in.)

Accession Number

21.326

Medium or Technique

Wood

On View

Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery (Gallery 119)

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Models

Among the more than one hundred wooden models found scattered throughout the tomb of Djehutynakht, the quality of this procession of offering bearers stands out from the others. The skill and delicacy with which it was carved and painted rank it among the finest wooden models ever found in Egypt. It shows a man and three women bringing offerings to sustain the ka of Djehutynakht in the afterlife. Each figure advances with the left leg forward, following the convention of larger scale Egyptian sculpture and relief. A priest leads the way, carrying a ceremonial wine jar and incense burner for use in the burial rites. Two women follow with offerings of food and drink - the first carries a basket of bread and a duck, while the second brings another duck and a basket filled with beer jars. The third woman furnishes items for Djehutynakht’s personal care, a small wooden cosmetic chest and a mirror, the latter slung over her shoulder in a case made of animal hide. This brief procession symbolically provides all that was essential to sustain Djehutynakht in eternity: food, drink, items of personal adornment, and the incense used to attract and appease divinities and the blessed dead.

The procession was found overturned between Djehutynakht’s coffin and the eastern wall of his burial chamber, in a pile of broken models that robbers had thrown aside. Although the four figures remained attached when the model was discovered, the two central offering bearers had lost their raised arms, and nearly all the offerings had come loose. Some pieces were found a considerable distance away. Since its discovery, the scene has been reconstructed twice. The first attempt, carried out in 1941 before all the elements had been identified, was incorrect. The current configuration was established in 1987.

Provenance

From Egypt, Deir el-Bersha, Tomb 10, pit A. May 1915: Excavated by the Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; assigned to the MFA in the division of finds by the government of Egypt. (Accession Date: March 1, 1921)

Credit Line

Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition