Sphinx of Taharqo

Sphinx of Taharqo

Sphinx of Taharqo

Height: 40.6 cm
Length: 73 cm



Excavated by Prof Francis Llewellyn Griffith

EA 1770

'The granite sphinx of Taharqo reminds me of our cat Dreevay. The posture of the sphinx mirrors the cat in just that position on the arm of the sofa. The sculpture echoes life, warmth and contentment although carved from cold solid granite. It is unlike the moving sands of the desert or beach which reflect the warmth and energy of the sun. The inscription is almost invisible like footprints in the sand, only just discernible, visibly invisible. There is an oblique conversation going on between the two sphinxes in the gallery.' Christine Warrington, of Trinidadian origin

Sphinxes represent the immense power of the Egyptian king. The human head of this sphinx is adorned with two uraei, the symbols of kingship. The mane around the neck is characteristically carved with care. The face is that of Taharqo, whose name appears on the cartouche on the chest. Taharqo was one of the rulers of Kush who dominated Egypt as the Twenty-fifth Dynasty (about 747-656 BC).

Although the basic form of this sphinx is Egyptian, several features set it apart. Most striking are the facial features of the king which leave no doubt that he is an African. The Kushite kings were proud of their ancestry and chose to be buried in Kush near their religious centre at Jebel Barkal.

This statue was found in Temple T at Kawa, in Upper Nubia (Sudan). Kawa was the home of a local form of the great Egyptian state god Amun. The kings of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty built temples there, with the intention of ensuring Amun's prominence. Temple T was constructed by Taharqo in the sixth year of his reign (690-664 BC).

On display: Room 65: Sudan, Egypt & Nubia