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    Sale 2174

    Antiquities

    3 June 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 2

    AN EGYPTIAN SERPENTINE CYLINDER SEAL

    OLD KINGDOM, DYNASTY VI, REIGN OF PEPY I, 2289-2255 B.C.

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    AN EGYPTIAN SERPENTINE CYLINDER SEAL
    OLD KINGDOM, DYNASTY VI, REIGN OF PEPY I, 2289-2255 B.C.
    Engraved with three columns of hieroglyphs, reading: "(The) King's gentleman (or nobleman), friend of the Palace, who does what is commanded; Horus, beloved of the Two Lands, Beloved by Re; (Royal) chamberlain of the Palace, who does what is praised (or favored) by his Lord every day;" the interior with a wide perforation
    3 1/16 in. (7.8 cm.) long; 13/16 in. (2.1 cm.) diameter


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    The present piece is a royal seal issued by the king Pepy I. Such objects were produced for officials who acted on behalf of the pharaoh and through the power and will of their sovereign. This fact is not only expressed by the right to use such a seal in office, but also by the epithets frequently inscribed on them, such as irr wdwt nb-f, "who does what is commanded by his Lord" or irr hzzt nb-f, "who does what is praised by his Lord."

    According to Goedicke ("Die Siegelzylinder von Pepi I", MDAIK 17, p. 69ff.), this type of seal has to be understood as an instrument that confirms the action of an official as a representative of the pharaoh; this is why only the titles of the owner are mentioned and not his name. These cylinder seals are therefore not destined for a certain person, but for a specific office, which was held through the authorization of the king. The seal becomes the visible attribute or symbol of an office and is therefore not personal property. This explains why such objects are not found in private burials.

    While there seems to be some dispute over whether this cylinder seal was issued in the latter half of the reign of Pepy I, there can be no doubt that it was altered and re-inscribed later in his reign. The third vertical column is longer than the other two and suggests that a new title representing a higher rank was added in the course of a promotion.

    Provenance

    Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 26 July 1976, lot 324.
    Dr. Ulrich Müller, Zurich.


    Pre-Lot Text

    THE PROPERTY OF A SWISS PRIVATE COLLECTOR


    Literature

    H. Goedicke, "Die Siegelzylinder von Pepi I," Mitteilungen des Deutschen Instituts fr gyptische Altrertumskunde in Kairo 17, Berlin/Wiesbaden, 1961.
    P. Kaplony, "Die Rollsiegel des Alten Reiches I," Monumenta Aegyptiaca 2, Brussels, 1977, p. 91ff.
    P. Kaplony, "Die Rollsiegel des Alten Reiches II," Monumenta Aegyptiaca 3A&B, Brussels, 1981, p. 396, no. 37, pl. 109.