The Griffith Institute
University of Oxford
Bersha Watercolours

Griffith Institute w&d 214 | Female servant with food offerings

Griffith Institute Watercolour 214
Griffith Institute w&d 214
© Griffith Institute Watercolours & Drawings Project

Artist Howard Carter.

Date 1893.

Deir el-Bersha.
Tomb of Djehutihotep. Temp. Sesostris II and Sesostris III.

Female servant seated on ground with an offering of food.
From scene: From the tomb of Djehutihotep. Hall (Inner Room). East wall.

Technical data
364 mm x 218 mm.
Mount, recto,
'Howard Carter 1893.' [signature and date];
'Unidentified but labelled El Bersheh.'; 'El Bersheh I'; 'Plate XXVI. (?)'; '? Dêr el Gebrawi.'.
Mount, verso,
'El Bersheh 1893'; 'Mr Carter'; '19 1/8 x 14 ¼' [one eighth of an inch & one quarter of an inch]; 'No 54'.

Griffith Institute w&d

See PM iv.180(20)-(21) | TopBib 409-060-010-020; GI w&d Deir el-Bersha Project.

This watercolour shows a wall painting detail from the Hall (Inner Room) of Djehutihotep's tomb, which due to an error in the collation of scenes from the east wall was overlooked in Newberry's publication; quite why this particular scene had been singled for a watercolour yet omitted in the final publication is a mystery.

This delicate watercolour, painted by Howard Carter, shows a woman squatting on the ground with both arms raised in front of her. She wears a long white sheath dress, a necklace of green beads and cuff-bracelets on each wrist. Her hair is dressed with a white hairband worn upon of the hair circlet-like, with streamers running flush with her hair at the back. A single lily flower decorates the point at which the hairband meets at the back of the head.

In front of the woman is a large pile of food heaped upon a low offering table; the fare includes a whole roasted duck, a joint of meat, loaves of bread, a lettuce, grapes and a lily flower. The tall pottery vessel on a stand to the left side of the food pile could contain wine or beer. This detail comes from the group of scenes illustrating daily life on Djehutihotep's estate which includes agricultural and manufacturing activities. Representing an end stage of food preparation within the noble's kitchens, this female servant was probably preparing the food as an offering.

We are grateful to Andrea Kahlbacher, who first identified the scene as coming from Deir el-Bersha, and to Marleen De Meyer of the Dayr al-Barsha Project, Egyptology Department, Leuven University, for the information regarding its precise location on the wall. The tomb of Djehutihotep and this scene will be published by the Project in due course.

Cataloguing John Wyatt & Lee Young | Commentary Elizabeth Fleming
Photography Jenni Navratil, assisted by Hana Navratilova
Editing and web pages Elizabeth Fleming, assisted by Francisco Bosch-Puche & Cat Warsi.