ca. 2390 BCE-2360 BCE
Old Kingdom (2686-2125 BCE)
32 1/8 x 9 3/8 x 15 3/8 in. (81.6 x 23.8 x 39.1 cm)
Medium and Support:
Upper half of red granite; lower half of toned plaster
R. T. Miller Fund
Location: Currently on view
This figure of King Ny-user-ra wears a royal striped linen headdress and carries a mace—a symbol of power—in his right hand. His name means “the one who belongs to the god Ra.” Ra, one of the earliest and most powerful Egyptian gods, was associated with the sun. The sculpture was probably buried in the King’s tomb to serve as the repository for Ny-user-ra’s ka, or life force.
[Gallery label text, 2009]
The Memorial Art Gallery’s bust of an Egyptian king of the Old Kingdom was unidentified until Bernard Bothmer, a prominent Egyptologist, realized that the Gallery’s sculpture matched the lower part of a statue in the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo. On the base of the Cairo portion, in front of the right foot, is a cartouche (see diagram) naming King Ny-user-ra, who ruled from 2390 to 2360 BCE. A plaster cast was made of this lower fragment and attached to the Gallery’s bust. The king wears a royal striped linen headdress and carries in his right hand a mace, a symbol of power. The red granite statue had been tossed into a refuse dump in ancient times at the Temple of Amon at Karnak, where this and other fragments were excavated in 1904. This is one of only two known portraits inscribed with Ny-user-ra’s name.
[Gallery label text, 2004]