The Feast of Nebamun, 1350 Bc
Hand-drawn reproduction of a feasting scene from the tomb chapel of Nebamun in Thebes, now on display in the British Museum, London.
This wall painting comes from an 18th Dynasty tomb chapel located in the Theban Necropolis on the west bank of the Nile in Egypt. It belonged to Nebamun, a wealthy, middle-ranking official scribe and grain counter at the temple complex in Thebes. The tomb’s plastered walls were richly and skilfully decorated with lively fresco paintings, depicting idealised views of Nebamun’s life and activities.
An entire wall of the tomb-chapel shows a banquet in honour of the deceased Nebamun. Naked serving-girls and servants wait on his friends, colleagues and relatives, who are entertained by musicians and dancers. Some of the guests are indicated to already be dead, suggesting the scene shows an idealised image of family celebration and support across time.
The women wear elaborate linen clothes painted as if they were transparent to show that they were exceptionally fine as well as unique jewellery, collars, and headdresses. Tall cones of white perfumed unguent sit atop their heads, a visual convention used to indicate they are wearing perfume. The floral garlands in their hair and the lotus flowers and buds they grasp are symbolic of the idea of birth and renewal.
A table is piled high with offerings of food and flowers for the deceased Nebamun which include earthenware wine amphorae, bunches of grapes, a plucked fowl, round and oval loaves of bread, patterned baskets of grapes, a basket of yellow sycamore figs, an animals heart, the skinned leg of an ox and a basket of mandrake fruit.