University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Statuette of Queen Ankhnes-Meryre II and her son, PepyII
Art is not just a means of expression, but a view into our past; a preservation of what was before us. Through paintings, carvings, statues, and architecture, we travel almost as if through a time machine, into history from thousands of years ago. By the careful observation of pieces of art that have been left behind, we can learn immensely about a culture and its lifestyle. A piece of art that expresses the history and culture from which it comes, very strongly, is the Statuette of Queen Ankhness-Meryre II and her son, Pepy II. When accessing this piece one clearly identifies a theme of strength. Pepy was a king who had one of the longest reigns in world history…It is apparent through this statuette that he was given a description and appearance of being highly powerful from the innocent age of six at which he became king.
The piece itself was most likely collected from Upper Egypt. It was created ca. 2288-2224 B.C.E. during the VI Dynasty in the period of the Old Kingdom. The statuette was formed using Egyptian alabaster which can be compared to a sort of limestone. The size of the piece is fairly small, around 15×9 inches; it seems almost as a trinket which can be used for decoration atop something. Queen Ankhness-Meryre II is depicted larger, therefore when looking at the piece; one’s eyes are drawn directly to her. She is in a sitting position, clothed in a simple long dress which reaches her ankles. There is very little detail to the shape of her body and her features. Her depiction is somewhat bland since it lacks detail. Though her face looks somewhat larger and disproportional to the rest of her body, her facial expression seems relaxed and at peace. She is wearing a wig with shoulder length hair, but covering that is a head dress appropriate for a queen. The head dress is slightly carved to show a type of eagle or vulture with its wings outstretched. The headdress she wears is a clear symbol of her status and power as a woman. She shines with strength supremacy.
Towards the front of her head there seems to be damage done to the piece, at first look, though it may seem crazy, it almost looked like a gunshot to her head. That not being the case however, one later realizes that the hole appearing at her forehead was once an insert for a piece that was to be attached. Perhaps the vultures head was supposed to be attached to the hole in front of her head. If that missing piece was there, her statue would look even stronger. In Queen Ankhness-meryre II’s lap sits a young boy, her son King Pepy II. Pepy is very small in size he looks like a young child. The strangeness of the piece is that the mother and son are not looking at each other; rather they are facing different directions, both statues seem very stiff. The only connection they have to each other is through gestures of hand. The queen’s right hand is placed on her son’s knee, and he calmly places his left hand on top of hers. Her left hand is placed on Pepy’s back almost reassuring support to the young king.
Attention to detail is highly lacking in this piece when it comes to features and facial expressions however they did manage to show relationship and support through simple placement of hands. Pepy II, although shown as a young boy sitting on his mother’s lap, he is dressed the way a full grown king would be. He is dressed only wearing a “skirt” to cover him from the waist down along with a head dress. The headdress is that which a king who is in power would wear, it is decorated with a cobra; a deceptive, skillful, and fast animal which when toyed with…will not back down without a fight. By portraying a cobra on his headpiece Pepy II is shown to be an icon of strength from a very early age.
This statuette although carved into two separate figures seemed almost one dimensional since it lacked attention to detail, shading, and shadow. Its representation of human bodies is not quiet realistic but it manages to get a point across. Overall this piece represents strength and power. Power is seen not only through the Queen herself but almost shown passed down to her son Pepy II. This statuette is a nod to the power young Pepy II possessed as a young boy which carried him to be a great King.