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  • The Royal Descendant Hetepheres

    The Royal Descendant Hetepheres

    Egyptian, early Fifth Dynasty
    The Royal Descendant Hetepheres, about 2440 B.C.
    Museum purchase

    Copyright Notice

    Hetepheres was the mother of the pharaoh's hairdresser, Re-Wer, who was honored in a stone tomb at Giza. Carved in high relief from a single slab, this life-size statue of Hetepheres was originally part of a family sculptural group of five figures that included her husband, son, and grandchildren. Her sculpted likeness furnished a recognizable image for her ka, or life essence, to inhabit, should her mummified physical body be destroyed. It also served as a focal point for veneration by her survivors, who would visit the necropolis on feast days.

    Now headless, Hetepheres stands with her left arm at her side; her right arm was once raised, probably to embrace her grandchild. Enlivened by the subtle modeling of swelling breasts, slender waist, and hips revealed beneath a sheer garment, the rigid, artificial pose of the figure- fixed for eternity- is typical of Old Kingdom art.