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Amarna King

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

During the Amarna period, artists portrayed the king and queen as beings who combined male and female traits. The king’s gender-flexibility ensured the fertility of the earth and all living creatures. A royal male with female sexual characteristics was the source for the belief that individuals could assume both male and female traits in the tomb.

Here, the king’s distended belly reveals that he is pregnant. This feminized vision of a king has narrow shoulders, a soft torso, and female breasts. The king’s red skin, understood to be the color of the disk of the sun, associated him with the sun-god Re: after death, all Egyptians hoped for transformation into Re-Osiris to travel to and then live in the afterlife.
MEDIUM Limestone, pigment, gold leaf
  • Place Excavated: Tell el-Amarna, Egypt
  • DATES ca. 1352–1336 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY late Dynasty 18
    PERIOD New Kingdom, Amarna Period
    DIMENSIONS 8 3/8 x 1 7/8 in. (21.3 x 4.8 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Gift of the Egypt Exploration Society
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Standing limestone statuette of a king, probably Akhenaten, wearing the Blue Crown. Hands at side. Uraeus, necklace and kilt overlaid with gold leaf. Flesh painted red; no inscription. Condition: Head broken off at neck and replaced. Figure restored in Oxford from ankles down. Paint chipped. Otherwise good.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Amarna King, ca. 1352–1336 B.C.E. Limestone, pigment, gold leaf, 8 3/8 x 1 7/8 in. (21.3 x 4.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Egypt Exploration Society, 29.34. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 29.34_SL3.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 29.34_SL3.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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