Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Bearded Woman

"Her splendor and her form were divine; she was a maiden beautiful and blooming."
Thus was the modest self-portrait of Hatsheput, the eldest daughter of Tuthmosis. When the warrior daughter of a warrior came to occupy his throne, she decided to call herself "king" and not "queen." Queens were the women of kings, but Hatsheput was unique, the daughter of the sun, the greatest of the great.
This pharaoh with tits used a man's helmut and mantle, wore a stage-prop beard and gave Egypt twenty years of prosperity and glory.
The little nephew she raised, who learned from her the art of war and good government, wiped out all memory of her. He ordered the unsurper of male power erased from a list of pharaohs, her name and image removed from paintings and stellae, and the statue she had erected to her own glory demolished.
But a few statues and inscriptions escaped the purge, and thanks to that oversight we now know that there was once a female pharaoh disguised as a man, a mortal who did not want to die, one who announced: "My falcon rises high above the kingly banner into all eternity."
Thirty-four hundred years later, her tomb was found. Empty.
-Eduardo Galeano (Mirrors)

Stunning portrait, however highly sexualized. And where's her beard?