Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Head of a Female Figure from the Tomb of Khety

Middle Kingdom
Dynasty 11
reign of Mentuhotep II
ca. 2051–2000 B.C.
From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Tomb of Khety (TT 311, MMA 508), MMA excavations, 1922–23
Wood, paint and paste fill
H. 6.3 cm (2 1/2 in.); W. 4.1 cm (1 5/8 in.); D. 5.2 cm (2 1/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1926
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 107
Herbert E. Winlock, the Museum's field director at Thebes, identified this head as an image of the treasurer Khety in whose tomb it was found. Comparisons to complete figures with similar close-fitting, short hair determined, however, that this head belonged to a female figure. The woman was most probably nude, and the absence of a wig and garment made her a representative of femininity in general. Her presence among Khety's burial equipment provided him not with a concubine (another out-dated interpretation), but with the means to be reborn after death.

The figure's head is a masterpiece of wood carving. Rounded cheeks, "love rings" on the neck, a dimpled chin, a smiling mouth, and the minutely modeled tiny curls of her hair combine to form an image of irresistible charm. The eyes must have been inlaid, and the eyebrows are still filled with dark paste; there are remains of black paint on the hair.
Excavated by the Egyptian Expedition of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1922–23. Received from the Egyptian Government in the division of finds.

Hayes, William C. 1953. Scepter of Egypt I: A Background for the Study of the Egyptian Antiquities in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: From the Earliest Times to the End of the Middle Kingdom. Cambridge, Mass.: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 164, 210.

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