Inv. n°: MMoCA856

Funerary Model of a Boat

The sailing boat manned by six crew seated in the prow, four sailors standing by the mast raising or lowering the linen sail, a seated bald-headed figure behind, and three standing sailors including the helmsman in the curved stern with rudder, four of the standing sailors wearing white painted chest bands, the deck painted with a red and white chequerboard design. Boats were an essential part of life in ancient Egypt, whether for carrying supplies, or transporting troops, pilgrims or mourners up and down the Nile. They varied in design according to function; reed boats being used for light use such as hunting in the marshes and lakes, papyrus boats being connected with the gods and royalty and used for entertainment or religious events (such as carrying statues of gods in religious ceremonies and pilgrimages), and sturdier wooden boats for heavier use such as trading voyages across the Mediterranean, Red Sea and beyond. Essential and exotic commodities and livestock were all imported by river and sea traffic. From Predynastic times, ships are depicted on rocks and pottery vessels, and continue to be represented in abundance throughout later periods on paintings, reliefs and models. Egyptian tombs often contained representations of activities and daily life, the images and models fulfilling a magic and religious function and assuring the continuation of such activities for the benefit of the deceased in the afterlife. The ancient Egyptians saw the blue sky as a celestial river and believed the gods, particulary the Sun god Re, travelled by special barques across the river of the sky by day (me'andjet-barque), and the waterways of the Underworld by night (mesektet barque). The model boats placed in tombs provided the souls of the deceased with a magical means of accompanying the Sun on its cyclical journey around the world.

w. 79.5 cm

Middle Kingdom, Dynasty XI-XII, 2087-1759 BC, Egypt



  • Sold at Leonard Joel Pty Ltd., Melbourne, lot 26
  • Dannett collection, Melbourne, Australia, acquired from the above sale
  • Acquired by descent to Simon Walters and Pamela Turnbull from the above
  • Christie’s, Antiquities, London, 13th October 2008, lot 69
  • Private Collection
  • Acquired at David Aaron Gallery, London


  • The Herald, Australia, 26th July 1949, p. 7
  • Leonard Joel Pty Ltd., Melbourne, 29th July 1949, lot 26
  • Life and Death in Ancient Egypt - Tjeby an Egyptian Mummy in the Museum of Victoria, 1984-01-01, pp.10-11
  • Antiquities, London, 13th October 2008, lot 69
  • "C’est quoi cette oeuvre?", Mougins Infos, September/October 2020, nº 75, p. 27


  • Museum of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia, 1987
  • Musée d'Art Classique de Mougins (MACM), Mougins, France, from 2020

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