The Female Pharaoh Hatshepsut

Hatshepsut is depicted in female clothing in this beautiful, life-size statue, yet she wears the nemes–headcloth, a royal feature traditionally reserved for the reigning king. She has already accepted the throne name Maatkare in the columns of writing written beside her legs on the front of the throne, but her titles and epithets are still feminine. As a result, she is known as the “Lady of the Two Lands” and the “Bodily Daughter of Re.” Part of an enigmatic scene, perhaps consisting of two back-to-back goddesses, is preserved on the back of the throne. A crocodile tail appears behind her legs, and the goddess has the figure of a pregnant hippopotamus with feline legs. Despite the fact that it looks like Taweret, the goddess who protects women and children, it is most likely Ipi,

a royal protector depicted in the same pose on a statue of Dynasty 17 king Sebekemsaf I (about 1575 B.C.) in the British Museum

The statue’s posture, with hands flat on the knees, suggests that it was meant to receive gifts, and it was most likely placed in one of the Temple’s chapels. In fact, her personal name, Hatshepsut, which means “foremost of noble women,” or a feminine grammatical form that reveals her gender, appears on the masculine statues. She had also been a public figure since childhood, first as King Thutmose I’s daughter, then as the major bride of her half-brother Thutmose II, then as regent to her nephew/step-son Thutmose III, and eventually as pharaoh.

Hatshepsut is only depicted totally as a lady in one other statue.

The Egyptian Expedition of the Museum uncovered multiple components of this statue near Hatshepsut’s temple at Deir el-Bahri in western Thebes in the early 1920s. The torso, on the other hand, had been discovered in 1869 and was housed in Leiden’s Rijksmuseum van Oudheden. For the first time since the original was destroyed in around 1440 B.C., the Leiden torso and the MET’s sections of the statue were reconnected in 1998.

Object Details

The Female Pharaoh Hatshepsut

New Kingdom

Dynasty 18, Reigns of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III

1479–1458 B.C.

 Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Senenmut Quarry, MMA excavations, 1926–29


 H. 170 × W. 41 × D. 90 cm, 620.5 kg (66 15/16 × 16 1/8 × 35 7/16 in., 1368 lb.) (as reassembled)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art