Period: Old Kingdom
Dynasty: Dynasty 4
Date: ca. 2575–2465 B.C.
Geography: From Egypt; Probably from Memphite Region, Giza, Western Cemetery
Medium: Limestone, paint
Dimensions: h. 62 cm (24.7/16 in); w. 24.5 cm (9 5/8 in); d. 15.2 cm (6 in)
Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1948
Accession Number: 48.111
Pair statues, usually depicting a husband and wife, were frequently placed in a serdab, the hidden statue chamber often found in nonroyal tomb chapels of the Old Kingdom. The Egyptians believed that the spirit of the deceased could use such a statue as a home and enter it in order to benefit from gifts of food that were brought to the offering chapel of the tomb.
The inscription on the front of this statue identifies these individuals as the Royal Acquaintance Memi and Sabu. Although the text does not specify a relationship, they were probably husband and wife, as is common for pair statues where a relationship is recorded. The pose is unusual because Memi is returning Sabu's embrace by draping his arm around her shoulders. This restricting gesture may account for the fact that he stands with his feet together, rather than striding forward in the normal masculine pose.
Until recently, this statue was dated to Dynasty 5, but the figures have many features in common with Fourth Dynasty statues found in the nonroyal cemeteries surrounding the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) at Giza. In addition, the pose has only two known parallels, both from Giza and both datable to Dynasty 4.