“Sphinx of Hatshepsut” Sculptural Artwork Analysis


The “Sphinx of Hatshepsut” is a sculptural artwork that is made of graphite and attached on top of a rectangular base. It depicts the female pharaoh Hatshepsut with a human head and a lion’s body wearing a false beard and nemes-headdress. This sphinx was found at Deir el-Bahir which served as one of the complex funerary temples devoted to the pharaohs of Hatshepsut’s family. As a result, the sculpture can be associated with ancient Egyptian culture. Notably, this artwork fails to show any sign of cultural interaction.

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The “Sphinx of Hatshepsut” solely represents the Egyptian pharaonic way of life. First, the fact that this temporary structure was originally located at a mortuary temple is a reflection of the ancient Egyptian’s respect for the pharaohs and their belief in life’s continuity after death. In the artwork, Hatshepsut is resting with her lower body parts firmly attached to the rectangular bases. This posture represents calmness, dignity, and stability, which is an indication that although she is bereaved, she remains reputable in her country and is destined for spiritual eternity. Moreover, the facial expression of the woman’s idealized appearance shows alertness with her face raised slightly upwards and eyes wide open, demonstrating that she is constantly over the watch of her followers. In the same vein, the presence of a combination of vertical and horizontal lines along Hatshepsut’s resting place brings a sense of permanency. Such principles can only be connected to the ancient pharaonic traditions, which are not found in other cultural practices worldwide.

The Hatshepsut sphinx reflects Egypt’s theocracy and how the citizens closely related their rulers to divinity. Despite the sculptor’s careful incorporation of the lion’s powerful muscles, the face of the pharaoh is meticulously presented as beautiful and solemn. This artistic skill shows that the ancient Egyptian traditions had attached significant religious importance to their supreme leader. Moreover, the depiction of the Hatshepsut with a composed and relaxed attitude tells the observer that she has confidence in her ability to lead her followers as she belongs to a bloodline of kings. Additionally, the names-headcloth she is wearing is a clear symbol of power as it was specifically designed for the Egyptian pharaohs.

The “Sphinx of Hatshepsut” further removes the possibility of cultural interaction given that women in many ancient cultures were not given leadership positions. This practice is unique to the Egyptians and it denotes early developments of human civilization. The integration of a lion’s body and female face by the sculptor demonstrates that women can preside over national matters. The coarse texture of the artwork further asserts that Hatshepsut has the courage and resilience to be a queen like her male counterparts. Furthermore, the pharaoh occupies the whole space of the base, which is an indication that she is solidly in charge of the country. Moreover, Hatshepsut manifests her leadership prowess by dressing like a man, which helps in assuring Egyptians that they have a great and strong ruler. This boldness is what made her gain the trust of her followers and successfully take the throne in an occupation that had earlier been a preserve for men.

The artwork re-affirms that the sculptor did not have any intention to include elements of cultural exchange. Essentially, Hatshepsut’s color is entirely brown, which is used to depict numerous leadership virtues mainly warmth, honesty, wholesomeness, and support. In addition, the brown color naturally denotes the earth, showing that the sculptor wants to demonstrate to the world that Hatshepsut is the customary and legitimate ruler of Egypt. Furthermore, the artist attempts to tell his audience that Egyptians believe in the dependability of the pharaoh irrespective of gender. Hatshepsut is described as one of the most successful pharaohs having expanded the country’s trading opportunities by leading various expeditions to nations such as Somalia. As a result, it appears that the sculpture’s lion body demonstrates a queen that is constantly hunting for chances that can improve her people’s lives.


In summary, the “Sphinx of Hatshepsut” does not indicate signs of cultural exchange. This artwork solely depicts the pharaonic traditions as it was permanently located at a mortuary temple. The subject matter’s posture depicts serenity, dignity, and firmness, which is a sign that although she has passed away, she remains a respected figure in Egypt and is destined for an eternal after-life. Second, this sphinx mirrors Egypt’s theocracy and how its citizens closely linked their kings to divinity. Furthermore, the artist removes the likelihood of foreign cultural influence given that females in most ancient cultures were not allowed to assume leadership positions. The sculptor uses the rough texture of the artwork to show that Hatshepsut possesses the bravery and resilience to become a pharaoh. Moreover, the artwork’s brown color indicates that the sculptor did not intend to incorporate elements of cultural interaction as it affirms full support to the queen.

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"“Sphinx of Hatshepsut” Sculptural Artwork Analysis." PapersGeeks, 1 July 2022, papersgeeks.com/sphinx-of-hatshepsut-sculptural-artwork-analysis/.

1. PapersGeeks. "“Sphinx of Hatshepsut” Sculptural Artwork Analysis." July 1, 2022. https://papersgeeks.com/sphinx-of-hatshepsut-sculptural-artwork-analysis/.


PapersGeeks. "“Sphinx of Hatshepsut” Sculptural Artwork Analysis." July 1, 2022. https://papersgeeks.com/sphinx-of-hatshepsut-sculptural-artwork-analysis/.


PapersGeeks. 2022. "“Sphinx of Hatshepsut” Sculptural Artwork Analysis." July 1, 2022. https://papersgeeks.com/sphinx-of-hatshepsut-sculptural-artwork-analysis/.


PapersGeeks. (2022) '“Sphinx of Hatshepsut” Sculptural Artwork Analysis'. 1 July.

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