King Pepi II and his mother Ankhesenmeryre II
This statuette made from Egyptian alabaster depicts King Pepi II of the 6th Dynasty, sat upon his mother Ankhesenmeryre II’s lap. This iconography of a mother nursing her child symbolises the goddess Isis (𓊨𓏏𓆇𓁐) nursing her son Horus (ḥr.w).
What some may find peculiar about these Ancient Egyptian depictions of mother and child, is that often the child is not depicted as a baby, but instead a full-grown adult in miniature form. Pepi II is depicted here, not with a side-lock plait (Ancient Egyptian hairstyle representing youth), but a nemes headdress with uraeus (royal insignia), telling us this statuette was created when the king was upon the throne and made to depict the king for eternity in such a way.
From a family with royal or upper class connections, both Ankhesenmeryre II, and her sister Ankhesenmeryre I, were wives of king Pepi (also named Meryre) I. The daughters of a man named Khui, and a female vizier Nebet, the sisters not only shared a husband in the king but their brother Djau was employed as a vizier.
Both of the sisters took the name, Ankhesenmeryre (sometimes written, “Ankhesenpepi”), which translates to “Her life belongs to Pepi/Meryre”. Both sisters birthed future kings, with Ankhesenmeryre I being the mother of king Merenre Nemtyemsaf I, and Ankhesenmeryre II being the mother of Pepi II.
Pepi II took the throne at the age of six, after his brother Merenre Nemtyemsaf I’s either ended due to death or a possible co-regency. It is not certified at the present, Egyptologists have varied views for differing reasons. However, as William J. Murnane and others after him including Anthony Spalinger, and Nigel Strudwick, remind us, Pepi II taking the throne at age six makes a co-regency unlikely, but not impossible.
It is believed, king Pepi II, is the longest reigning monarch in both the ancient and modern world. Surpassing Queen Elizabeth II’s six plus decades on the throne.
The statuette of Pepi II upon his mother Ankhesenmeryre II’s lap is now at the Brooklyn Museum, New York City. 39.119
The location where the statuette was found, however, is uncertain. The Brooklyn Museum cites, that the figure was possibly purchased near Akhmim, by Elie or Michel Abemayor of Cairo, Egypt; before 1890. But also reportedly purchased from Elie or Michel Abemayor by Jacques Matossian of Alexandria, Egypt; before 1939. It was then purchased from Marguerite and Paul Mallon by the Brooklyn Museum.
Despite the location of discovery being unknowable, other Egyptian alabaster items from the reign of the Pepi kings, and/or Sixth Dynasty, like the vase above have been found in Saqqara and also belongs to the Brooklyn Museum.