During the second half of Dynasty 12, Egyptian artists produced increasing numbers of small-scale, hard-stone statues that portrayed officials in family groups. Although it is unclear exactly why this change in customs took place, it was part of a larger trend toward shared funerary and votive...
During the second half of Dynasty 12, Egyptian artists produced increasing numbers of small-scale, hard-stone statues that portrayed officials in family groups. Although it is unclear exactly why this change in customs took place, it was part of a larger trend toward shared funerary and votive objects that would continue into Dynasty 13. This finely carved statuette depicts a provincial governor, Ukhhotep II of Meir, standing between his two wives with a daughter before him. Vertical lines of text running down the center of the garments identify each of the four family members. The figures stand on a thick base and share a wide back pillar with rounded edges. The back pillar is incised on either side of Ukhhotep with protective wadjet eyes, and at the far ends with sedge and papyrus, the heraldic plants of Upper (southern) and Lower (northern) Egypt. When the statue stood in its original position along the west wall of the tomb, the plants would have been positioned appropriately on the south and north respectively. Ukhhotep and his wives are attired in wigs and clothing fashionable during the mid to late Middle Kingdom. He wears a shoulder-length wig and long, wraparound kilt. His hands rest on his thighs in a position of reverence, a pose that had already been popularized by statues of Middle Kingdom kings. His identically clothed wives wear the sheath dresses common from Old Kingdom times through the Middle Kingdom, and the heavy wigs favored by both royal and nonroyal women in the second half of Dynasty 12. The wigs featured a central part, with the hair pulled forward into lappets ending in tightly wound coils. The young girl wears a dress similar to those of the grown women, but her hair is styled in the distinctive sidelock worn by Egyptian children. The facial features of all four figures are typical of the second half of Dynasty 12, with very large, high-set ears and heavily lidded eyes. Although they display the characteristic furrowed cheeks of the period, they lack the concerned frowns found on many contemporary pieces, and instead smile contentedly. Ukhhotep II is known from his beautifully painted rock-cut tomb to have been the local governor, or nomarch, of the fourteenth Upper Egyptian administrative district during the reign of Senwosret II. He probably continued to serve under the following king, Senwosret III. This statue, which once must have stood in the offering chapel of the tomb, would have functioned as a focal point for the offering cult. Paintings of the two women, who must have been favorite wives, also appear in the shrine at the back of the tomb.
From Meir, tomb C1 (Ukhhotep). 1912, purchased in Asyut for the Walters Art Gallery; 1973: acquired by the MFA from the Walters Art Gallery by exchange. (Accession Date: Februaury 14, 1973)
Museum purchase with funds by exchange from the Egypt Exploration Fund by subscription
Egyptian, Middle Kingdom, Dyn. 12, reign of Senwosret II or III, 1897–1842 B.C.