Egypt, New Kingdom, Eighteenth Dynasty
ca. 1375 BC
Height 112 cm
Three kilometres north of Thebes, on the bank of the Nile, lies Karnak, Egypt’s largest temple complex. At its centre is the gigantic sacred precinct of the great god Amun-Re. From there, a sphinx-lined avenue leads to the temple and sacred lake of the mighty mother goddess Mut. Over seven hundred statues of the lion-headed Sekhmet were erected there (and more continue to come to light today).
Many are still standing at the excavation site, while others are now in the world’s museums, including the Frankfurt Liebieghaus. Symbolized by her ferocious lion’s face, the goddess Sekhmet is a menacing power of Egyptian myth. She brings sickness and calamity upon human beings. However, because she can also take them away again, the faithful revere her protective powers. The artist displays great skill in combining the lion’s face, the slender woman’s body and the divine symbols. The radial tresses of the lion’s mane lie atop the horizontal strands of the thick locks of hair on the figure’s shoulders.