The registers located under the ROM
This is the great area on the pl Davies-paintings-XXV.t can be divided, from a didactic viewpoint, into four sections, as shown in the drawing below (pl. XXV, more details)
1)- Yellow Zone: Worship of the statue ( pl Davies-CIX)
On the left, the figure of Rekhmire has been removed in a large gap leaving two registers.
First register: there is a group of offering bearers moving towards the left.
Second register: the scene takes place inside a light building, showing the remains of a statue of Rekhmire to whom his son hands a long stem of papyrus (synonymous with freshness, renewal, rebirth), next to a heap of provisions.
To his right, a small inset shows a group of ordinary female mourners who seem very isolated ( pl Davies-CIX/1); However, they are near the House of Gold venue of the ROM (which has a large group of female djeret mourners directly involved as we have seen). Some of them throw their hair forward, thus covering their faces: this is the "nwn gesture", illustrating the special place occupied by the hair in the Egyptian funerary thought.
2)- Grey Zone: ritual funeral meal
This scene occupies the lowest register. It consists of a succession of men seated and reaching out to a pile of offerings on a table before them. This type of meal, which leaves no room for imagination, begins to appear in private tombs from the reign of Thutmose III then disappears just before the Amarna period. It is spatially and temporally separate from the funerals and takes place in the presence of the statue.
3)-Red Zone: rites in the garden
Like all very senior officials, Rekhmire had for his pleasure a pool in his large garden. This pool was also used for ritual practices upon the statue of the deceased, as here. Opinion is divided as to when such ceremonies were held; in any case it was not during the funeral. It is likely that the ceremony was repeated every year; the deceased could thus benefit from the new pool, drink from it, fish in it and gain sustenance from the products of its trees and gardens.
The garden of Rekhmire, a model of aspectivity
This famous garden is represented by the laws of the aspective, a concept proposed by Emma Brunner-Traut. With a perspective view to which we are accustomed, a subjective observer looks at a scene from a single viewpoint at a given time (unit of time and place). The aspective is to deconstruct a scene or a character ... then to show them in all their facets, combining multiple points of view, or from their sides considering the most features. The representation being the vector of creation, it cannot be partial, so it's about showing the maximum number of elements, regardless of the time dimension (this is how the deceased can be represented deceased doing several things at once without it being improbable).
The order of priorities in the representation is the same as in hieroglyphics: a hierarchical organization (same principle as honorific transposition in writing: the most important representations are emphasised); an harmonious organization (signs and representations are distributed so as to have a balanced aspect); a chronological organization (other signs or representations are placed in chronological sequence for reading or course of action).
This principle is perfectly illustrated by the garden of Rekhmire. It is formed of four nested rectangles: in the centre, the pool, on the banks, rows of trees depict the principle of folded elevation with increasing size towards the outside so that no part is hidden. Besides the whole of the components, it must also show an organized universe (that is to say where Maat rules) and be reassuring, modelled on real gardens that adorned the houses of nobles.
The pool, surrounded by walls, is rectangular, lined with three rows of trees, sycamores on the outside (4th rectangle) and then alternately date palms and dom palms (3rd rectangle), then in the second rectangle other smaller sycamores. On the basis of aspective, trees have been shown lying outwards. In the pool, covered with water plants, fish swim. In the fourth rectangle on the left is a building (kiosk or chapel) with door and cornice ornament, unrelated to the pond ( view bs-38754). A gardener is picking dates and two others bring water to irrigate trees ( view cd-045).
A Nechemet boat is towed on the water by two groups of three haulers. Upon its middle stands the statue of the Vizier in an open chapel; this representation has been effaced. In front of the shrine, a priest makes a libation and censes, while behind, a priest laments with arms raised. On the left, on the bank, a man awaits the statue with a papyrus stem and bunches of onions ( view sh-382/01). There are no island, booths for drinks and food, or landing place as can be found in other tombs.
4)-Purple Zone: official meal offered to officials
( pl Davies-CXI, view cd-085) In this meal which could be called official, Rekhmire thanks his subordinates for their presence at the funeral and perhaps for the annual rites in the garden. The scene, largely destroyed, appears over three registers in a building with columns (one of which is shown in white, see cd-087). The Vizier, who has disappeared under red paint, sat alone (the family has nothing to do here) before a table of offerings, a little apart to show his rank ( view cd-046).
Only a few guests are still visible, sitting on the floor. A crowd of servants busy themselves around them, bringing various commodities: different forms of bread, vegetables, fruit (e.g. figs: view bs-38756), meat ... and drink; the activity is well rendered by the artist ( view bs-38755, view cd-086). Scribes are also present ( view cd-051, view bs-38757).
The festive banquet
( pl Davies-paintings-XXVI/2) Two representations of the couple, Vizier and wife, occupy the entire height of the wall on the left, while on the right side are shown the participants in eight registers, four for women’s banquet and four for that of the men. We are near the east end of the wall and this time the context is that of the party and not a funeral meal, which the iconography and texts clearly show. The painters were also allowed some freedom here, as we shall see. However, the proximity of funerary scenes indicates that this banquet had a ritual meaning, such as the intoxication of the participants (see the "banquet scene"). These assemblies were held on the days of specific festivals.
The couple, Vizier and wife
1)- Upper register
Rekhmire and his wife Meryt sit on chairs placed on a mat. The vizier wears his official dress; he reaches out with his left hand to a sistrum and his right hand to a menat necklace. Meryt places her left arm around his shoulders, while in her right hand she holds the stems of a lotus flower and buds signifying rebirth,. The accompanying text says: "Rejoicing at the sight of beautiful event: sing, dance, make music, be anointed with myrrh oil, rubbed with queb oil, with a lotus flower at the nostrils, with bread, beer, wine, sweet beer and all things before (him). For the Ka of the Prince, the Count, the Mayor of the City, the Vizier, Rekhmire, true of voices (and) his sister (= wife), who is at his side, the beloved of his heart, Meryt, true of voice".
Before the couple are two of their daughters, young but nubile, who hold out to their parents a sistrum, a menat necklace, and two Hathor symbols related to procreation ( view bg-442). On the other side of the table of offerings, two of their older daughters, also offer the couple sistrums ( view bg-437); one holds a glass dish containing a solid white ointment or perfume ( view bs-38673). The accompanying text says: "They say: Great Adoration for the Mayor of the City, May the daughter of Ra (= Maat) glorify and cherish you. May she put her protection behind you every day as she surrounds you with her arms! You support Her Majesty as she puts her arms around your shoulders. You spend a long and beautiful life on earth and life, where prosperity and health envelop you".
Before the couple we find the first couple of registers of the men’s banquet.
2)- Lower register
The couple have completely disappeared. All we can say is that at least one son, Amenhotep, presented flowers. The accompanying texts though, very similar to the previous ones, have by contrast survived. Above the couple: "Joy, jubilation, participation in the festival (with) a lotus flower of the shemu season (=Summer) by the nostrils, balsamic oil upon the crown of the head (= wig) For the Ka of the Prince, Mayor of the City, Vizier Rekhmire (and) his wife Meryt".
Above the son: "Speak words. Bring the lotus flowers from your watered garden, for you shall not be thereby deprived. May he give you all sorts of good fruits and good things that grow there to you to be comforted by their sweetness and you revel in all that he provides for you; your heart participates in its young growth, you're refreshed by the shade of trees and you can do there what your heart desire for time infinite and time eternal". We understand by reading this text the importance of the garden in the life of Rekhmire (as in that of all wealthy Egyptians who were basically men of the soil, like the Romans) and why this scene is adjacent to the representation of the garden seen above.
Before this second couple is the women’s banquet.
The banquet scene is a remarkable composition in Rekhmire’s tomb for its quality and balance. Men and women are separated (or at least represented as such). All are sitting on a mat on the ground, with the exception of the mother of the vizier, Bet, whose son has wanted to honour her. Each group has its own musicians.
1)- The banquet of women ( view sh-416, view xx-054)
This occupies the top four registers. The guests are served by young girls, sometimes with older women who stand behind them ( view bs-38675, view bs-38705). The young have different coiffures from their elders, with long tresses on the side and top of the head, and they wear transparent dresses ( view bs-38677). They offer lotus flowers, floral necklaces which they attach around the ladies necks ( view bs-38676), ointments with which they anoint them ( view bs-38674, view bs-38703) and they serve out the drinks ( view bs-38704, view sh-408, view sh-417, view sh-420) en leur souhaitant "to your health!" : "For your Ka! Make a happy day!".
Note in the middle of the second register a single image, unique throughout Egyptian art: a girl is shown (approximately) three-quarter rear ( view sh-415); However, the daring of the artist has its limits not only do the feet remain in a side view, but they are also stupidly crossed ( view dm-1284). Another curiosity is in the register above, a little to the left, there is a young lutenist. Given her position and that of her hands, she cannot be playing (in fact she is separated from the orchestra): She is tuning her instrument which is shown in profile ( view sh-403)to the melody and the range of singers voices that are before her; they are not represented because they are offering drink and ointments ( view bs-38679). Another curiosity about the lutenist: it is the nearest foot of the spectator which is in front, unlike the usual order. The singers ask: "Is it possible that this is Maat before whom we feel such a desire to drink?". Note also at the end of the upper register are jars and vases as well as a suspended leather vessel system for filtering a drink (probably wine) ( view bs-38678).
At the start of the second register, under the singers, the mother of Rekhmire enjoys special treatment: she is the only person sitting on a chair and she enjoys the food on a table in front of her. An inscription accompanies her: "For your Ka! Make a holiday while you are on earth Your Lord Amun, who loves you and supports you, has granted it to you!".
The orchestra consists of a harpist, a lutenist, a tambourine player and two women who beat the cadence ( view bs-38702). Note that the lute is seen from the front when the musician plays. The harpist ( view sh-423) sings : "Dwith myrrh oil on the wig of Maat Health and life given by her acting through me"; the lutenist: "Amon, the sky arose for you, the land spreads out at your feet Ptah made the double chamber of his hands so that the country is born for you"; the tambourin player : "Come wind of the north, which I just saw while I was in my house (?)" ( view sb-79).
2)- The men's banquet
( view bs-38718, view bs-38717, view bs-38712, view bs-38714, view bs-38715, view bg-426) It displays the same organization as that of the women, but is a bit stuffy and dull; the painter has allowed himself no whims. The orchestra is composed of a harpist, a lutenist ( view bg-429) and singers ( view bs-38711, view bs-38716). There is no tambourine player.