The Statuette of Khufu in the Cairo Museum is an ancient Egyptian sculpture that dates back to around the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom period (between 2700-2200 BC).
However, it is not improbable that the statuette may have been made in a much later period than Khufu’s era – perhaps in 7th or 6th century BC. This argument is held by famous Egyptologist and archeologist Zahi Hawass, a former Egyptian Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs. According to Hawass, the ivory figurine was most likely a replica of an original and bigger statue located probably in Memphis in Lower Egypt. Hawass also claims that the Khufu statuette found its way to Kom el-Sultan because it was used as a votive offering.
The statue is made of ivory and measures at 7.5 cm high x 2.9 cm long x 2.6 cm wide. It depicts the Egyptian king Khufu, who is best known for commissioning the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza, seating on a not so fancy throne.
The statue is notable for its elegant size and intricate details, which include the pharaoh’s nemes headdress and kilt. The headdress that Khufu wears is Red Crown of Lower Egypt, also known as the deshret. Although he wears a short, pleated loincloth, his upper body is naked.
The Egyptian pharaoh is shown seated upright, with his left arm resting at his side and his right arm raised, as if in a gesture of blessing. In his right hand is a flail which he holds against his right shoulder.
Ivory figurine has Khufu’s head slightly over proportioned relative to his body. The Egyptian king’s ears are depicted a bit large and projecting.
Although the statuette’s feet, Red crown, and the pedestal did not survive, it remains to date the only complete three dimensional object which depicts khufu.
The statue was discovered British Egyptologist Sir Flinders Petrie during excavation of Kom el-Sultan in Abydos, Egypt in 1903.
Today, the Statuette of Khufu is housed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, where it is considered to be one of the museum’s most significant and iconic artifacts.
Quick facts about the Ivory figurine of Khufu
Date: either the 4th dynasty or 26th dynasty
Size: 7.5 cm high x 2.9 cm long x 2.6 cm wide
Place discovered: Abydos, Upper Egypt
Current location: Egyptian Museum in Cairo