Head of a Sphinx

Middle Kingdom

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 111

The uraeus serpent marks the royal status of this person, who is wearing an unusual wig with striations running from the forehead to the back. The statue depicts part of the real hair projecting from underneath the wig, in front of the ear. Looking at the head itself, it seems unclear if a man or woman is depicted. The shape of the mouth and the several tight curls of the uraeus fit well to early dynasty 12, but the naturally sculpted eyebrow and ear point towards the middle of this dynasty. The facial features do not match any king of this period, which makes it more likely that the head depicts a queen or princess. The depth and the angle of the break show that the head was part of a sphinx, a common statue type not only for kings, but also for royal women.

Head of a Sphinx, Quartzite

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