Curtain box of Queen Hetepheres I (reproduction)
Old Kingdom, Dynasty 4, reign of Snefru to Khufu
Cabinetmaker Ahmed Youssef (Egyptian)
Findspot: Egypt, Giza, Tomb G 7000 X (original)
Height x width x length: 18.5 x 21.5 x 157.5 cm (7 5/16 x 8 7/16 x 62 in.)
Medium or Technique
Wood, gold, copper, silver, faience, ebony
Out on Loan
On display at Houston Museum of Natural Science, TX, May 17, 2013 – June 30, 2020
Those who could afford it equipped their tombs with all the necessities and comforts of life on earth, so that they could continue to enjoy them in the afterlife. For Queen Hetepheres, wife of King Sneferu and mother of King Khufu, these necessities included her entire bedroom suite: her portable canopy, bed with headrest, armchair, and curtain box, all designed of wood overlaid with gold.
The canopy was cleverly designed so that it disassembled easily and without damage, thanks to the copper sheathing reinforcing the joins. Sheets of fabric anchored to the top and sides by copper staples afforded privacy and protection from insects. When not in use, they might be stored in the elaborately inlaid box, whose long sides, like the endposts of the canopy, bear the name and titles of the queen’s husband, Sneferu.
All of the furniture is noteworthy for its austerity of line and selective use of detail. The seeming simplicity masks sophisticated joinery. The beauty and technical achievement of these objects are matched only by the amazing story of their accidental discovery in 1925 and subsequent excavation and restoration. Because it was an unplundered royal tomb, the original contents remained in Cairo, as stipulated in the Expedition contract. The set in the Museum is an exact duplicate.
From Giza, tomb 7000 X (original). Reproduction commissioned by the MFA and made by Cairo conservator Ahmed Youssef, 1939.
(Accession Date: October 11, 1939)
Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition