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An Analysis of the Statuette of the Lady Tiye, an Ancient Egyptian Sculpture

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Statuette of the Lady Tiye, standing at 24 centimeters tall, is an Egyptian wood sculpture dating back to the reign of Amenhotep III–Akhenaten, around 1390–1349 B.C. The sculpture shows Tiye, who was the royal wife of Amenhotep III, mother of Akhenaten, and grandmother of Tutankhamun. Born a commoner, Tiye rose in power to become an equal to her husband, which was unusual to royal women, and even became worshipped as a goddess.[1] The statuette displays Tiye standing on a wood block base, wearing a robe and a necklace. She is smiling, with a content and determined look on her face. She holds her right arm powerfully bent on top of her stomach, and her left arm straight down by her side. Golden hieroglyphics can be seen at the base of the statuette. Statuette of the Lady Tiye displays intricate designs and movement to express the gentility and power that Tiye held in Egypt.

The statue seems to be in good condition, albeit a large gash on the left buttock, and the left hand being slightly ripped and rough. The ankles are slightly chipped, and there is some discoloration scattered all over the statue. Paint is slightly chipping from the jewelry around her neck.

The necklace, made of glass, Egyptian blue, carnelian, and gold, contrasts with the wood and creates a focal point using a shift in material and colors. The real jewelry is a stark difference from the rest of the wood, and expresses the rise of power and fortune of Queen Tiye.

Many geometric patterns cover the statue. On the voluminous wig, hundreds of small triangles cover the top portion of the wig, with small squares on the bottom portion of the wig. Small circles can be seen on the chest of the robe, as well as along the bottom of the robe near the ankles. These intricate details, especially in the wig, show how the sculptor wanted to capture the highly-held importance and beauty that Tiye possessed in respect.

Various carvings inside of the wood create movement and repetition, such as repeated short strokes along the length of the robe, and long, shallow marks along the right arm to the stomach. This draws the eye to the arm that is pulled up above the stomach. Contrapposto present in the statue also allows the eye to move along the statue, leading the eye from the top of the statue, down to the arms, and along the curves of the body down to the feet.

The sculptor attempted realism, but was not completely successful. The head is too large for the body, giving the sculpture an almost cartoon-like quality. The left arm does not have any curves and is a simplified straight line, and the thumbs of the figure are too big for the hand. However, the curves of the waist and stomach peeking out under the clinging robes suggests that the Egyptians were interested in creating realism and depth when showing off the form of Tiye’s body.

Statuette of the Lady Tiye shows how Tiye was regarded as a representation of fertility, and a gentle yet powerful symbol of Egypt that rivaled her husband.

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