Artist: New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, Reign of Amenhotep III, ca. 1390–1353 B.C.
Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.
How would you describe the head of the figure?
Half animal, half human, whom or what do you think this statue represents?
Where do you think the sculpture would have been placed? Why?
Carved into a tough rock known as diorite, the lion-headed figure of Sekhmet sits atop a base inscribed with hieroglyphs. Sekhmet was known as “the Powerful”, and was one of the fiercest hunters of ancient Egyptian beliefs. Sent by the sun god Ra to punish his enemies, she was considered the embodiment of his wrath. Myths tell that Ra once sent Sekhmet to punish men who plotted against him. She set about with such intense violence that Ra feared she may destroy all of mankind. Ra had to intervene again in order to stop her rampage. She then became remembered as a guardian and protector.
The statue was first commissioned for the funerary temple of Amenhotep III located in Thebes on the western Nile. It was one of hundreds designed to protect the king. Because of his wealth, Amenhotep III could commission one statue for each day in order to ward off evil. However, the name we see now on the statue of Sekhmet is not Amenhotep III, but “Sheshonq I”. The pharaoh Sheshonq I reused this statue hundreds of years later at a temple in Karnak dedicated to the sun god Amun.