Ritual Figure 

Ritual Figure, ca. 1929–1878 B.C.E.; Dynasty 12, reigns of Amenemhat II–Senwosret II; Middle Kingdom

Egyptian; Lisht

Plastered and painted cedar; H. 22 7/8 in. (55.5 cm)

Rogers Fund and Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1914 (14.3.17)


"This figure wears the red crown of Lower Egypt and a divine kilt. The face is thought to reflect the features of the reigning king, either Amenemhat II or Senwosret II, but the combination of royal and divine attributes suggests that the statuette was not merely a representation of the living ruler. The surfaces of the crown and kilt were built up with a layer of plaster before paint was applied. Traces of red, the traditional skin color of male figures, can be seen on the exposed flesh. The contours of the legs, the details of the hands and feet, and the delicate modeling of the face set this sculpture apart as one of the masterpieces of ancient Egyptian art.

The statuette was discovered in 1914 at the royal cemetery of Lisht during the Museum's excavation of a mud-brick enclosure wall surrounding the mastaba of Imhotep, a Twelfth Dynasty official who lived in about 1900 B.C. The deposit included a second, almost identical figure wearing the white crown of Upper Egypt, which is now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. The two figures were probably used as part of a dramatic funerary ceremony and then ritually buried.

In spite of its small size, the statue has great presence. In Egyptian art, the essential purpose of any formal representation of a man—whether god, king, or lesser mortal—was to embody the essence of masculine strength and virility. The restrained power expressed in the elegantly simple pose of this striding figure admirably achieves this goal, and it is easy to understand why Egyptian artists continued to use many of the same uniquely expressive forms for nearly thirty centuries." - MET 

Copyright © 2001 The Metropolitan Museum of Art - MET

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The Art of Ancient Egypt, Revised by Robins, 272 Pages, Pub. 2008


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Table of Contents

Ancient Near East Art

Female Worshipper- Uruk
Funerary Head of an Elamite
Stele of Mesha, King of Moab
Sarcophagus of Eshmunazor II, king of Sidon
Stele Showing the Storm-God Baal
Fertility Goddess - Ugarit
Oskoron I - Byblos
The Spinner Relief
The Archers of Darius
Bull Capital From Darius I Palace
Sargon II and a High Official
Tablet of Sargon's 8th Campaign
Winged Assyrian Bulls
Law-Codex of Hammurabi
Hero Choking a Small Lion
Kudurru of Melishihu
Hittite God - Gold Figurine
Seated Statue of Gudea, prince of Lagash
Foundation Nail of Ur Ba'u 
Cylinder-Seal Of Sharkalisharri
Victory Stele of Naram-Sin
Urnanshe (King of Lagash) Relief
Ebih-II, the Superintendent of Mari 
Tablet Of Pre-Cuneiform Script
King and Eunuch Attendant Relief
Human-Headed Winged Bull
Bearded Man Holding Tendrils
Nubian With Animals and Skins
Head of a Roaring Lion
Cylinder Seal With Impression
Orthostat Relief - Hunting Scene
Sphinx Plaques
Throne With Bull Deity

Ancient Egypt

Model of a Riverboat
Ritual Figure of the 12th Dynasty
Stela of Mentuwoser
Coffin of Khnum-nakht
Sphinx of Senwosret III
Face of Senwosret III
Pectoral with the Name of Senwosret II
Statuette of a Hippopotamus
Seated Statue of Hatshepsut
Ostracon of Senenmut
Chair of Renyseneb
Heart Scarab of Hatnofer
Kneeling Statue of Tuthmosis III
Arm Panel from a Ceremonial Chair
Sphinx of Amenhotep III


Pendant in the form of a man's head - Carthage