Funerary Stela of Pakhaas

Funerary Stela of Pakhaas
Limestone; H. 37.5 cm; W. 27 cm; D. 4.2 cm
Thebes; 2nd –1st century BCE
Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund; Brooklyn Museum: 71.37.2
© Brooklyn Museum Photograph


Although this stela displays a set of Egyptian iconographies, the scene depicted attests to the adaptation of Egyptian beliefs in the service of the Ptolemaic religious narrative. At the center is the deceased Pakhaas dressed in a belted skirt, a broad collar, and a sash. He sits on an elaborate chair, holding a bolt of cloth and a staff while a statuette of the god Osiris rests on his knees. In front of Pakhaas is his son Pakhy, who offers incense and water to the father, and behind him is his wife, Nesihor II, who plays the sistrum. The emphasis on Osiris, the detail of the son presenting offerings to the deceased rather than to a deity, and the wife’s sistrum suggest that the three protagonists are here the earthly incarnation of the triad Isis, Osiris, and Horus, and that the Ptolemaic reinterpretation of Egyptian divinities in fact percolated into the larger Egyptian society.

Cleopatra’s Egypt: Age of the Ptolemies. The Brooklyn Museum, 1988. 232, no. 123.