Artist: Old Kingdom, Dynasty 6, ca. 2350-2170 B.C.
Title: Statue of the Deceased
Gift of Jack F. Chrysler, in memory of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.M
What material was used to make this? What clues suggest this?
What do you notice about the extended arm? What might the statue have been holding?
Try standing like the statue. How do you feel?
This statue of a striding man, with his arm extended to hold a staff, was made to represent and be buried with an ancient Egyptian. Found in a tomb, it continues to perform the jobs held by the deceased before he died. We can learn more about the man the piece commemorates by looking for clues in the work of art. The choice to use wood, as well as the size of the figure, implies that the man was most likely wealthy. At the top, we see a carved wig covering the head. A real wig would have been made from human hair and plant fibers or wool and would be expensive and time-consuming to make. Moving down the figure, notice that the kilt was damaged or altered at a later date, evident near the right hand. The pleating continues to confirm the man’s rank, as it would have been a luxury worn by officials and nobles. These clues help us to learn about the life of the deceased, as well as the clothing, craftsmanship, and language of ancient Egypt.
Egypt is dry, covered mainly in sandy deserts with only a few tree types growing, such as acacia, juniper, and sycamore. During antiquity, most hardwoods, including ebony and cedar, were imported from eastern Africa and Lebanon. Since wood was a scarce resource, furniture, instruments, toys, and funerary objects, such as the Statue of the Deceased, were a luxury. The funerary statue is in remarkable condition considering the number of dangers that cause wood to decay, such as wind erosion, insect damage, water damage, and rot.