The origins of modern day board games can be found in the ancient Egyptian game known as senet. Described as the world’s oldest board game, senet was enormously popular, appearin g not only in reliefs by the Third Dynasty high official Hesy Re and the murals of Ramses II’s consort Nefertari, but also such occult writings as the Coffin Texts and the Book of the Dead. The image of a recently departed person seated at a game board before an unseen opponent alludes to another role of senet that functioned beyond as a secular game but as a religious tool forachieving communion with the gods.
The underlying concept of 《 The Game of Heh: Barakat Egyptian Treasures 》 is the ancient Egyptians’ understanding of senet as a means of entering another world to compete with beings from the other realm. Following the direction of the Egyptian hieroglyphs and the beckoning hand of the male sculpture from the New Kingdom, the deified cat mummy and the bronze cat headed goddess Bastet and her enchanting gestures, we are led to confront the faces of the departed on mummy masks, and then to the Field of Reeds where the god of eternity Heh sits upon his seat of gold.
The exhibition reconstructs a monumental senet board where the viewers are invited to take the role of a priest, playing a fantastical game with the gods where they are provided with a rare opportunity to confront and behold the age old antiquities. It brings together the finest Egyptian pieces from the 150 year old Barakat collection, and includes a selection of historically valuable and spectacular antiquities.