Statuette of an Official Who is a Dwarf

Middle Kingdom

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 111

Although small in size, this statuette, made by a talented sculptor, conveys the image of an important official. Although the statuette can be dated to early Dynasty 12, the man’s wig and skirt draw on the style of the late Old Kingdom (ca. 2323–2150 B.C.). What makes this a rare piece is that the official is a dwarf. This understanding derives from the knee-level position of his hands, as on an average-sized individual the hands would be in the area of the upper thigh. This identification of dwarfism is reinforced by the right-of-center navel and the inward alignment of the right foot; both suggestive of misalignment in the man’s lower body.

Based on Old and Middle Kingdom statues and depictions in relief and painting, dwarfs were thoroughly integrated into the structure of ancient Egyptian society and there does not appear during these periods to be a distinction among people of different physical types.

Statuette of an Official Who is a Dwarf, Serpentinite

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