Statue of a Seated Vizier
This seated figure’s rank of vizier is confirmed by the cord around his neck from which his official badge or seal would have been suspended. The seal would have been tucked into his kilt for safekeeping.
Carved from anorthosite gneiss (also known as Khafre diorite, the material associated with the Old Kingdom king Khafre), the stone for this statue was limited to representing pharaonic or royal figures and could be used only by the royal workshop. It is unknown why this figure is unfinished.
A vizier held the most powerful position in Egypt under the king. Similar to a secretary of state, the vizier was in charge of all civil affairs. A vizier (a modern word derived from the Arabic wasir, “minister,” which we use to translate the Egyptian tjaty).
The viziers were appointed by the kings and often belonged to a pharaoh’s family. The vizier’s paramount duty was to supervise the running of the country, much like a prime minister. At times this included small details such as sampling the city’s water supply.
Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty, ca. 1991-1803 BC. Anorthosite gneiss. 18 1/8 x 6 5/16 x 12 3/16 in. (46 x 16 x 31 cm). Now in the Saint Louis Art Museum. 1:2007