Triad statue of Ni-ka-re (Nykara), Inspector of the Scribes of the Granary, and his family

In this Old Kingdom, Late 5th Dynasty, triad statue, dating from approximately 2455-2350 B.C., we see an Ancient Egyptian style family portrait of a man called Ni-ka-re (Nykara), his wife Ni-ka.w-nb (.w) and their son Ankh-ma-re.

Such statues were often placed in tombs for offerings to be received, yet they were also placed within households or chapels as a votive shrine for the deceased. To afford and commission such a piece means that Ni-ka-re was likely of status in society, and his job proves such, as Overseer of the Scribes of the Granary, was a very important role in village life throughout Egypt.

Triad statue of Ni-ka-re (Nykara), Inspector of the Scribes of the Granary, and his family.
Triad statue of Ni-ka-re (Nykara), Inspector of the Scribes of the Granary, and his family. Brooklyn Museum. 49.215

The triad is in traditional Egypt colour scheme and poses. The young Ankh-ma-re, with his ‘side lock of youth’, a plaited hairstyle, and finger to the lips pose, indicates his young age.

Why this pose with the finger is associated with childhood and youth has never been fully determined, however, it is easy to ponder that such a pose is typical of a curious child.

Toddlers and young children will often put their finger to the mouth or inside of the mouth as a way of soothing ones self or to indicate thinking.

Strangely, however, Ankh-ma-Re, is the same size as his mother, Nik-ka-w-nb. This could be a stylistic choice made by the artist to make the statue symmetrical.

We have to remember that these pieces were in fact created by artists who would sometimes add their own flair and style to a piece, and that is a reason why some Egyptian artefacts may seem more or less of quality, depending on the region, time period, status of a person commissioning the piece, or, your own personal taste as the viewer.

Ankh-ma-Re is nude, as many Egyptian children were depicted as such, this could be a representation of freedom, or something that truly occurred.

Ankh-ma-re with the "pondering" pose of an ancient Egyptian child.
Ankh-ma-re with the “pondering” pose of an Ancient Egyptian child.

The wife and mother of the family, Nik-ka.w-nb, has a beautiful cropped bob style wig, which seemed to be rather fashionable for her time in Old Kingdom, Egypt.

Most noteably, Nofret, the wife of Rahotep, son of Sneferu, is famously depicted with a Liz Taylor Cleopatra style wig in an almost identical fashion.

Nik-ka.w-nb, also wears a beautiful white linen strapped dress which caresses her figure. A slight pouch of her belly can be seen. Her skin is the traditional yellow of living Egyptian women.

Nik-ka-re, sites in the centre. A father figure, and the patriarch of the family. If standing, he would be towering over his son and wife. His skin is red, the traditional Egyptian male colour, indicating a tanned male, fit and healthy, an outdoors man, hunter, farmer and hard worker.

Even if such things were not true, the Egyptian male would want to be depicted as such in these funerary or religious statues, as being depicted at your best was of vast importance for the afterlife.

This piece was discovered in Saqqara, Egypt, and is now on display at the Brooklyn Museum, in New York City.