The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of October 28, 2016

Stele of the High Priest of Ptah, Shedsunefertem, 945-924 BC

limestone, originally painted and gilded, Overall: 86.80 x 78.50 cm (34 1/8 x 30 7/8 inches). Gift of the John Huntington Art and Polytechnic Trust 1914.669

This stele of Shedsunefertem, the High Priest of Ptah, is rich in religious symbolism. In the center of the top register is a disk and crescent, originally gilded. At either side a baboon raises its arms in adoration. The Egyptians believed that the jabbering of the baboons at dawn was a hymn of praise to the sun god Ra in a secret language only the king understood. It begins, "Praising Ra when he shines on the horizon."
Directly below in the middle register a child god is seated on a lotus flower. In Egyptian mythology the sun arose out of the primeval waters at the dawn of creation in a lotus flower. Winged figures of Maat, goddess of Truth, stand protectively at either side. The damaged figure of the high priest himself, wearing the panther skin and jackal-collar of his office, appears at the far right, worshipping the god Ptah, whose consort, the lioness-headed goddess Sekhmet, appears on the far left. The figures in the bottom register are colleagues who appear here as dependents under the powerful high priest's protection.

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