Portrait Head of a Princess

This wooden head is a part of a composite princess statue. The parts of this statue were sculpted separately and then assembled. Small details sometimes provide crucial clues to understanding a sculpture.

It is believed to have belonged to a princess or even a queen of the 12th Dynasty, based on the fine depiction of the face, the careful selection of the precious materials, and in the execution of the wig.

Portrait head of a princess. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 39390
Portrait head of a princess. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 39390

We can see the black hair of the princess on her forehead covered by the wig. It is attached to the head by tenons made of a black material inlaid with gold. The eyes of this statue were once inlaid but this inlay is now missing.

Without the original context it becomes much harder as to speculate to the meaning or function of the piece. They are typical of Egyptian depictions of women, especially royal women. They don’t necessarily have a meaning onto themselves.

Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty, reign of Amenemhat I, ca. 1991-1962 BC. Height: 10.5 cm. Wood and gilding. From el-Lisht necropolis. Area of the Pyramid of Amenemhat I. Metropolitan Museum of rt Excavations of 1907. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 39390