The position of the proper right arm, with the palm of the hand facing out, is a common gesture in Near Eastern and Mediterranean civilisations; it is a sign of protection specific to deities, but it was also customary among men and women, ministers of worship and kings, as a way to express veneration and adoration. The ears of grain held in the left hand are a symbol of fertility. On the upper part of the frame is a frieze of nine ibex heads (the sacred animal par excellence in South-Arabian culture), flanked by “false window” architectural motifs made of concentric recessing rectangles.
Fayšat is a female name (see Ja 160); Naḍḥān is a family name, already recorded on other steles found at Ḥayd bin'Aqīl (see Ja 351, RES 3902), the necropolis of Tamna', capital of the Kingdom of Qatabān.
Two holes, one on each side of the figure's neck, still contain bronze pins, which were probably used to fasten the stele to a wall.
For related examples and discussions of the type see R. Cleveland, An Ancient South Arabian Necropolis. Objects from the Second Campaign (1951) in the Timna‘ Cemetery (PAFSM IV), Baltimore, 1965, p. 22, pl. 41 (inv. nos. TC 553, 648, 709, and 726), p. 23, pl. 41 (TC 1358), p. 24, pl. 41 (TC 1662), and p. 26-27, pl. 51 (TC 2530), J. Pirenne, "Notes d'archéologie sud-arabe, I: Stèles à la déesse Dhât Ḥimyam (Ḥamîm)," Syria, vol. 37, 1960, pp. 326-347, A. Avanzini, "The 'stèles à la déesse': problems of interpreting and dating," Egitto e Vicino Oriente, vol. 27, 2004, pp. 145-152, and S. Antonini de Maigret, South Arabian Art. Art History in Pre-Islamic Yemen (Orient & Méditerranée 10), Paris, 2012, pp. 99-101.
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