Middle Kingdom Woman

This wooden statuette depicts a Middle Kingdom woman with a wig of plaited hair parted in the middle, creating a pigtail appearance. Her real hair can be seen within the middle part of the wig peeking through, with slight painted lines indicating hair strands. Such a hairstyle was usually associated with the goddess Hathor. The woman’s physique is typical of the Middle Kingdom style; long limbed, with a slender figure, yet oversized hands and feet, both of which are decorated with green anklets and cuffs, on both her ankles and wrists.

The figure of the woman is clad in a typical linen sheath with shoulder straps. Her style of wig would have likely been constructed by attaching real hair to a mesh basis using beeswax and glue. A necklace rests on her collar with one unidentified amulet seemingly depicted.

On the back, the piece is partially broken above the left leg. There is a brownish stripe on the back that extends from the front under the waist.

Dimensions: 9 13/16 x 2 11/16 x 1 13/16 in. (25 x 6.8 x 4.7 cm)
Walters Art Museum. 22.16

It is thought this piece was discovered in Asyut. Around 3100 B.C., Ancient Asyut served as the capital of Upper Egypt’s Thirteenth Nome (Lycopolites Nome). It was situated on the western bank of the Nile. The two most renowned gods of Ancient Egyptian Asyut were Anubis and Wepwawet, both funerary canine deities. The city’s name is derived from early Egyptian Zawty (Z3JW.TJ) (late Egyptian, Səyáwt) and adopted into Coptic as Syowt (ⲥⲓⲟⲟⲩⲧ), which means “Guardian” of the northern approach to Upper Egypt. In Graeco-Roman Egypt, it was named Lycopolis or Lykopolis (Greek: Λυκόπολις, “ἡ Λύκωv πόλις”), (‘wolf city’), Lycon, or Lyco. Such names are interesting considering the canine god’s associated with the region.


Wooden figure of a woman
Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty, c. 1930 B.C.
From Aysut (most likely).
Now at the Walters Art Museum. 22.16