Statue of Nykara and his Family

This family statue depicts Nykara, whose title is Scribe of the Granary, seated between the two standing figures of his wife and son. If Nykara were shown standing, his dimensions are such that he would tower over the other two figures.

Also, although the boy’s nakedness, sidelock of youth, and finger-to-mouth gesture indicate that he is very young, he is depicted as the same height as his mother. These disproportions apparently resulted from the sculptor’s desire to show all three heads in a row.

Statue of Nykara and his family. Brooklyn Museum. 49.215
Statue of Nykara and his family. Brooklyn Museum. 49.215

During the Old Kingdom of ancient Egypt, family statues were a common form of artistic expression. These statues typically depicted members of a family, often the king or a high-ranking individual, along with their spouse and children.

The purpose of these statues was to serve as representations of the family unit and to perpetuate their memory for eternity.

Family statues from the Old Kingdom were typically made of stone, such as limestone or granite, and were often placed in tombs or funerary complexes. They were intricately carved and depicted the family members in a formal and idealized manner.

The statues aimed to convey the status, wealth, and importance of the family, as well as their close bond and lineage.

Inscribed single column on each side of seat and two lines on base in front of each standing figure. All heads broken from bodies.

Head of central figure damaged; other two heads more or less damaged. Front part of base broken in several pieces, minor chips. Considerable loss of color.

These family statues played a significant role in ancient Egyptian funerary practices, as they were believed to provide a physical presence for the deceased in the afterlife.

They served as a focal point for offerings and rituals, ensuring the continued well-being and remembrance of the family in the divine realm.

Old Kingdom, late 5th Dynasty, ca. 2455-2350 BC. Painted limestone. From Saqqara necropolis. Now in the Brooklyn Museum. 49.215