Fragment of a Sunken Relief : Wall from the Tomb of Pay

18th Dynasty (circa 1539-1292 BC)


H. 35.5 cm ; W. 88 cm ; D. 5.5 cm


Acquired by Rodin between 1893 and 1913.

This relief comes from the tomb built by Pay, overseer of the royal harem, during the reign of Tutankhamun (1333-23 BC), later completed by his son and successor, Raia, at Saqqara, the vast necropolis situated in the Memphis region.


It was probably placed on the south wall of the tomb’s inner courtyard. Depicted on the relief is a series of scenes in which priests, clad in long pleated loincloths and shoulder-length wigs with curled locks, pour libations in front of wooden pavilions, where offerings of food and flowers are piled up. Inscribed above each scene is a lament citing the name of Pay.


The relief obtained by carving the contours and subjects deep into the stone, catches the light more keenly than bas-relief, thereby accentuating the narrative precision and stylistic preciosity.

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