Yasser Metwally

My life…and the world

Rahotep and Nofret

The author: Professor Yasser Metwally

http://yassermetwally.com


INTRODUCTION

May 18, 2008 — Rahotep was a high official who lived at the end of the 3rd and the beginning of the 4th Dynasty. According to his titulary, he was the physical son of the king.

Although not accepted by all Egyptologists, it is generally assumed that, based on the placement of his mastaba at Meidum, Rahotep’s father was Snofru, the founder of the 4th Dynasty. It is, however, sometimes argued that Rahotep’s father was Huni, the last king of the 3rd Dynasty, or that the title ‘physical son of the king’ was purely honorific and does not imply that Rahotep’s father was a king at all. There have indeed been examples of the title ‘son of the king’ being honorific, but the addition of ‘physical’ in Rahotep’s case does seem to suggest that Rahotep was a prince. The name of Rahotep’s mother is not known.

Figure 1. Nofret. Note that the artist has highlighted the fact that Nofret wears a wig by painting part of her real her on her forehead.(Click to magnify figure)

He was also the ‘great priest of Heliopolis’ and a ‘general’, as well as the ‘lord of Pe’, one of the holy cities in Ancient Egypt.

Figure 2. The statues of Rahotep Note the moustache on Rahotep’s statue,which is rather unusual in Egyptian art. (Click to magnify figure)

He was married to Nofret, who bore the title ‘known to the king’, which indicates that she was part of the royal entourage. The parents of Nofret are not known and neither is any offspring of Rahotep and Nofret.

Figure 3. The statues of Rahotep (left) and Nofret (right). Note the moustache on Rahotep’s statue,which is rather unusual in Egyptian art. Also note that the artist has highlighted the fact that Nofret wears a wig by painting part of her real her on her forehead. (Click to magnify figure)

 The quality and beauty of two marvellously preserved seated statues of Rahotep and Nofret, found in 1871 in their brick mastaba at Meidum, confirm their high rank. It is not unlikely that they were created by highly skilled sculptors working for the royal ateliers. The faces of the statues express the same solemness and self-assuredness as the royal statues of the same dynasty. The realism in these statues is increased by the glass inlaid eyes and their realistic sizes: the statue of Rahotep measures 1.20m in height, Nofret’s 1.18m. More personal details, such as the slight frown on Rahotep’s face, and his moustache, add to the impression that the statues were intended as idealised portraits.


References

  1. Women in Ancient Egypt by Barbara Watterson (St. Martin’s Press, 1991)

  2. The History of Middle Eastern and Western Dress, Britanica.com

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May 18, 2008 - Posted by | Ancient Egyptian panorama

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