Rahotep might have been a son of King Sneferu and thus, a brother of King Khufu. He held the titles of High Priest of Ra at Heliopolis, General of the Army, and Chief of Constructions. He is seen here wearing a short kilt, short hair, a fine mustache, and a heart-shaped amulet around his neck.
Rahotep’s wife, Nofret, is described as “the one acquainted to the king.” She is seen wearing a shoulder-length wig, decorated with a floral diadem and a broad collar. Her natural hair can be seen under the wig. We recognize the distinction in the skin coloring of the two statues: reddish brown for the man and cream wash for the woman. This was an artistic convention followed throughout ancient Egyptian history.
The colors are well preserved and the faces have realistic expressions. The torchlight reflecting on the inlaid eyes of these two statues caused the workmen who first gazed at them to be afraid. Prince Rahotep and his wife Nofret’s life-like painted limestone statues are considered among the most famous private statues from ancient Egypt.
Old Kingdom, 4th Dynasty, reign of king Sneferu ca. 2575-2551 BC. From the Mastaba of Rahotep and Nofret in Meidum, discovered in 1871 during Auguste Mariette excavations. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. CG 3, 4