Head of a King
This rare head of a king with beard and one eye-ball missing; ear chipped; tip of crown broken off and replaced. Recent bruises on the left cheek and the crown. The right eye-ball is carved of fine marl, originally held in place by a copper hand, of which two small fragments (completely oxidized) remain.
The headgear and mustache identify the figure as an Egyptian king; the tall crown with the rounded top, known as the Hedjet White Crown, signified rule over Upper Egypt. Broken at the neck, the head originally belonged to a full, probably standing, statue.
In ancient Egypt, such statues were placed in tombs to serve as eternal images of the deceased. Sculptors sought to convey the king’s divine character, while also experimenting with realistic portrayals of the human face and body.
Tombs typically contained images of the mummified deceased carrying on an everyday task or completing a deed or an achievement, images of the deceased offering a sacrifice to a god (most likely Isis or Osiris), other images of snakes, gods, weapons, or scorpions to protect the tomb and keep evil spirits away.
Old Kingdom, 5th Dynasty to 6th Dynasty, ca. 2498-2181 BC. Made out of stone and copper. Dimensions: H x W x D: 58 x 17.7 x 26.8 cm. (22 13/16 x 6 15/16 x 10 9/16 in). Now in the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. F1938.11