Resources for Ancient History enthusiasts, teachers, and students

Model of a female Offering Bearer

A typical Middle Kingdom wooden model of a female offering bearer carrying a basket on her head.

Offering bearers are people who carry offerings (such as food and drinks) for the deceased. The Ancient Egyptians believed these offerings will be used by the deceased as sustenance to allow them survive in the afterlife. Offering bearers are often shown to have baskets filled with jars of drink (possibly beer), bread, meat, and other necessities.

Similar models are commonly found in Ancient Egyptian tombs during this period. A more well-known example is the so-called “Estate Figure” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City (Accession number 20.3.7). Another example in the Australasia is a male model at the Auckland War Memorial Museum (Accession Number 13144).

The imagery of offering bearer carrying objects on head is part of a long tradition from earlier period. It can be found on wall reliefs in the Old Kingdom period, such as a 5th dynasty example from Giza now located at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (Accession Number 37.2761.1).

This model of a female offering bearer is made of wood, gesso, and paint. Dated to the Middle Kingdom period, 11-12th dynasty, it is currently located at the National Gallery of Victoria International (180 St Kilda Road) as part of their permanent exhibition.

More information: NGV D150-1982

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Resources for Ancient History enthusiasts, teachers, and students. We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which our sharing of knowledge takes place, and recognise their continuing connection to country, community and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present, and extend that respect to the First Nations peoples today.

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