Relief of Ka-aper with Offerings, between 2565 and 2420 BCE

  • Egyptian

Polychromed limestone

  • Overall: 19 7/8 × 24 3/8 inches (50.5 × 61.9 cm)

Founders Society Purchase, Sarah Bacon Hill Fund


On View

  • Egyptian: Preparing for the Afterlife


Africa, Oceania & Indigenous Americas

A strict method of representation was developed early in the history of Egyptian art and a series of rules were established that changed very little over three thousand years. A good example of this is the representation of Ka aper at his table, surrounded by hieroglyphic texts that name the offerings made for his spirit. His image is made up of parts realized from different viewpoints— head in profile, shoulders seen from the front, and lower body again as from the side. The Egyptian artist was trained to convey a symbolic idea of a person or thing, not a naturalistic representation.

Inscribed, top register: [translated: Magistrate, official, one who belongs to the heart of his god, great one (or "greatest") of the ten(s?) of Upper Egypt, Ka-aper.] Inscribed, offering list, lower section: [translated: incense, one dish | natron, six pellets | green eye-paint, (a dish) | black eye-paint | best (oil), (two jars) | isd-fruit, (two dishes) | figs | nabq-fruit, (two dishes) | dried nabq fruit, (two cakes) | grain | great loaf, (two dishes) | bread which is in the earth, (two dishes full) | hbnn.wt-loaves, (two dishes full) | shp.t-drink, (an open jar, a sealed jar) | prw-beer, (a jar, a cup) | milk | a thousand of bread | a thousand of beer | a thousand of alabaster (jars of ointment) | a thousand of clothing]

(Paul Mallon)

1957-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

PM III, p. 501. Bulletin of the DIA 37, no. 2 (1957-1958): p. 33. Fischer, Henry G. "A Scribe of the Army in a Saqqara Mastaba of the Early Fifth Dynasty." Journal of Near Eastern Studies, vol. 18, no 4 (1959): pp. 233-272, pl. IV. Peck, W. H. "The Present State of Egyptian Art in Detroit," Connoisseur, vol. 175 (1970): p. 267. Handbook. DIA. 1971. Bulletin of the DIA 58, no. 2 (1980): p. 104 (ill.). Harpur, Yvonne. Decoration in Egyptian Tombs of the Old Kingdom: Studies in Orientation and Scene Content. London & New York, 1987, pp. 67, 77, 131, 186-7, 276, 294, 316, 329, 342, 359, 390(30). [references to the "Saqqara" tomb from which the Detroit relief comes, not the Detroit relief itself]. Verner, Miroslav. "The Mastaba of Kaaper," Zeitschrift fur Ägyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde 120 (1993): pp. 84-105. Henshaw, Julia P., ed. A Visitors Guide: The Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1995, p. 107 (ill.). Barta, Miroslav. Abusir V: The Cemeteries at Abusir South. Czech National centre for Egyptology, 2001, chapter IV; The Tomb of Kaaper, pp. 143-190, pl. LXIX. Barta, Miroslav. "The Czech Institute's Ten Years of Excavations at Abusir South" in KMT: A Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt, vol 13, no. 1 (Spring 2002): pp. 19-28 [DIA piece cited on pages 23, 24].

Egyptian, Relief of Ka-aper with Offerings, between 2565 and 2420 BCE, polychromed limestone. Detroit Institute of Arts, Founders Society Purchase, Sarah Bacon Hill Fund, 57.58.