Ka statues were usually carved from wood or stone and sometimes painted in the likeness of the owner to reinforce the spiritual connection and preserve the person’s memory for eternity. Many ka statues were placed in a purpose-built mortuary chapel or niche, which could be covered with appropriate inscriptions. Like most ancient Egyptian statuary, Ka statues display a rigid frontalism in which the body faces squarely forward in a formal way.
This statue was excavated in 1894 in the tomb of king Hor that was found by a team of excavators under the direction of Jacques de Morgan. The tomb is located north of the pyramid complex of Amenemhat III at Dahshur.
A ka statue is a type of ancient Egyptian statue intended to provide a resting place for the ka, or spirit, of the person after death. The ancient Egyptians believed the ka (or life-force), along with the physical body, the name, the ba (personality or soul), and the šwt (shadow), made up the five aspects of a person.
The wooden structure is a magnificent, well-preserved masterpiece. It depicts the Ka statue of King Hor I (Au-ib-Re), which is clearly marked by the Ka hieroglyphic sign as two upraised arms topping the head. The Ka, or guardian spirit, had to survive in the statue to keep its owner alive. The statue, found within its accompanying naos, or shrine, was covered with a fine layer of painted stucco. The king is sculpted wearing a three-part long wig, leaving the ears exposed. He wears a long, curved divine beard.
It is noteworthy that the sculptor successfully modeled the inlaid eyes to lend a lifelike appearance to this expressive face. The eyes are inlaid with rock crystal and quartz. It seems that the Ka statue once held a scepter in its right hand and a staff in its left hand. The statue of the king was fixed to a wooden panel that could be taken out of the naos.
Middle Kingdom, 13th Dynasty, ca. 1777-1775 BC. The statue is now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 30948