Saturday, August 2, 2008
Conventions of Egyptian Sculpture
Where did these reserve heads come out of and why did they not integrate into the conventions of Egyptian funerary sculpture?
What had been the need for limestone heads with their features in plaster? Could it have been part of the death rituals, the act of coating the limestone head and modeling its features may have evolved in the 5TH Dynasty to the coating of the human mummy with the same modeling represented in the reserve heads?
That a mummy like Nefer/Watay in the 5TH Dynasty which is sculpted out of plaster could be the descendant of these heads in the 5TH Dynasty with the mummies being far rarer than the preceding reserve heads.
The heads are unlike the seradab statues of the same dynasty which feature individual Egyptians in full frontal poses from head to toe with their families. Many of these much more elaborate constructions are for people of much lower status than those represented by the 37 known reserve heads who are the prince's and princess's and their partners of the king's court.
The head of princess Merytyetes bears a distinct dignity her head slightly upturned bearing her royal constitution while her husband's head which is better preserved does not possess her haughty disposition but rather a calming smile.
Many like the royal couple just mentioned are wearing skull caps like that worn by the god Ptah while others are bald.
The heads may have led to the development of plaster mummies in the middle of the Old Kingdom with limited success and the 4TH Dynasty convention of reserve heads became obsolete and was discarded.