A reserve head depicts a member of king Khafre’s family. The reserve heads display a natural grandeur and are all fully shaven, as if they wore skullcaps, so that it is often difficult to distinguish between male and female portraits.
This head, which depicts a member of Khafre’s family, is characteristic of this type of sculpture. The eyes continue towards the nose in deeply cut lines. The eyebrows and high cheekbones are in raised relief. The typical nose and the slightly frowning mouth add to the realistic character of this portrait of a self-assured member of the upper classes.
Reserve heads have been found in the substructure of tombs. Only a few more than 30 examples are known from the reign of Khufu. Their precise function remains unclear down to the present.
Probably the purposeful damage to the ears and to the back and crown of the head had some magical function; it stands in marked contrast to the careful carving of the sculpture.
Old Kingdom, 4th Dynasty, reign of Khafre, around ca. 2570 BC. Medium: Limestone. From Giza necropolis. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 46216