Kushite King Senkamanisken

Napata (643-623 B.C.)

From Gebel Barkal, head from Temple B 500, body from B 904
Harvard University-MFA Boston Expedition, April 1916, field no. 16-4-32
Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, 23.731

With the retreat of the Kushite kings from Egypt, the art of the Napatan empire gains a new dimension. Its characteristic fashion of representing the human form and face were already visible in the works of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty. But they were toned down through direct contact with the tradition-bound art of Egypt, failing to come to full fruition.
Once freed, however, from the restrictions of the pharaonic legacy, a style develops in the Napatan dynasty that brings the more "African" components to the fore. Many colossal statue fragments from the original inventory of the great Amun Temple at Gebel Barkal were unearthed in a cache north of the first pylon. This statue of Senkamanisken was one of them. All of the stylistic tendencies of the preceding era come to light here, enhanced and expanded. The forcefully striding legs have become more massive, the feet larger. The arms end in balled fists that bespeak raw power; the musculature is strongly emphasized. The head rests heavy on the short neck, thickset in profile view. The southern facial type is characterized by the full lips, broad nose, the widely spaced, slightly bulging eyes, and the low brow. The double uraeus at the forehead is completely preserved—in the Napatan homeland the statues were spared the persecutions wrought by the succeeding dynasty in Egypt. The Kushite cap closely conforms to the round skull. Around the neck hangs the cord with three ram's heads. Surface areas left rough for gilding or silver plating include the jewelry bands on the upper arms, wrists, and ankles, the sandal straps, tripartite royal kilt, and the cap.

From the book Sudan: Ancient Kingdoms of the Nile, Dietrich Wildung, 1997, p. 218
Funerary Figurine of King Senkamanisken

This shabti, or funerary figurine, is typical of the nearly 1300 figurines found in Senkamanisken's pyramid at Nuri, the royal necropolis in the Kushite capital of Napata.


Housed in the Brooklyn Museum