, Research Paper
This superb pair standing statue remains semi-attached to the limestone block from which they were carved. There is chipping on the surface of Memi’s (man) right arm. A portion of Sabu’s (woman) nose and her lips appear to be chipped off as well. On the lower part of Sabu’s body there is chipping on both legs and right underneath her pelvic area. There are visible horizontal lines that cut right across Memi’s right forearm and underneath Sabu’s breasts. These lines may indicate what pieces of the statue had to be mended back together. There is also chipping on the bottom right hand corner of the stone slab underneath Memi’s right leg. There are remnants of black paint on Sabu’s wig, hairline and on her pupils. On Memi’s left shoulder there is a small remnant of rust color paint that was probably the skin color used for his whole body. Black paint is also visible on the lower portion of Memi’s hair, especially along the tips closest to his shoulders. All other paint on the statue seems to have deteriorated over the years.
The hieroglyphs along the bottom of the stone slab label this work of historical art with representations of birds and plants. The representation of nature in Egyptian artwork is very common during the Old Kingdom time period. The overall statue remains fairly intact suffering from only one major handicap, which is the loss of its original color.
This pair statue subtly deviates from the conventional representations of husband and wife in Old Kingdom artwork. This statue is rather exceptional because we see an image where the wife’s symbolic gesture that signifies their marital status is affectionately returned by her husband’s embrace. There is a sense of intimacy and warmth in this embrace. This may explain the fact that Memi stands with his feet together as opposed to the masculine striding pose where the left leg is slightly advanced. Memi retains the strict canonical pose with respect to the rigid frontal well-built body. His right arm hangs straight down and close to his side while his right hand is clenched in a fist with the thumb facing forward. He appears to be clenching some type of cylinder rod, which can also be interpreted as a symbol of royalty or power. His chest muscles, abdominal muscles and right bicep emphasize his well-toned body. His left arm wraps around the back of Sabu’s head and drapes down over her left shoulder. His left hand rests on her left breast. His fingers are stiff and elongated. Knuckles are visible and his left thumb is seen in profile. Memi stands much larger than Sabu and is almost a full head taller than she is. Their bodies are not aligned together; Memi is slightly more advanced and protrudes a bit more from the stone slab than Sabu. His back is not fully attached to the slab although his legs and feet appear to be semi-attached.
Memi’s face is round in shape and is his gaze is focused straight ahead. His jaw line is not clearly defined. The texture of his hair appears to be very thick and in layers. This possibly could be interpreted for wavy or even curly hair. His hair partially covers his forehead and fully covers his ears almost touching his shoulders. His neck is very tiny and otherwise not proportioned to the rest of his body. His eyes are oval shaped and his nose is round and wide. He has full lips and his chin is well defined. Memi wears a garment wrapped around his waist, which covers the lower portion of his body to his knees. He is also wearing some type of belt that fastens underneath his navel and imitates a fan-pleated pattern, which covers the right side of his garment. His knees and shinbones are highly defined. His ankles are much narrower than the lower portion of his leg and his toes resemble the appearance of his fingers.
Sabu’s pose is canonical with her left arm hanging straight down and close to her body. Her left hand rests on her left thigh with the thumb facing forward. Her right arm circles around her husband’s waist. A portion of her right arm and shoulder are visible showing the extension of her arm around his body. Her right hand fingers are very stiff and close together. Her right thumb is carved in profile. Sabu is significantly smaller than Mimi and stands closer to the stone slab. Her back is slightly separated from the stone slab as well as her feet. Mimi’s left elbow is visible behind her head. The difference in height between the two figures suggests the artist’s depiction of the roles that a husband and wife has, where the male should be viewed as the more dominant figure. Sabu’s facial structure and characteristics are very similar to Mimi’s, although her jaw line is much more defined and her neck is significantly longer than her counterpart. Sabu’s natural hairline can be seen right above the arch of her eyebrow. The hair is parted in the middle and combed evenly to each side of her face. Her wig appears to have a thick braided texture and rests on top of her natural hair. The part in her wig is aligned perfectly with the part in her natural hairline. Her ears are fully covered and the length of her wig almost touches her shoulders. This image is very similar to the way Queen Khamerernebty’s hair and wig is represented in the portrait statue of her and King Menkaure. Sabu’s gaze deviates from the conventional pose of staring straight ahead. Her head is slightly turned and she is gazing off to the left. Her eyes are very wide and the eyeball seems to protrude slightly from the socket. Her nose is partially chipped off along with a portion of her lips. Although they are not fully intact, her lips are full and resemble the shape of Memi’s. Likewise can be said about the remains of her nose.
Sabu is wearing a sheath dress that clearly defines her body underneath it. The outline of her right breast is entirely visible while her left breast is completely covered by Mimi’s left hand.
Her abdominal muscles and naval are visible through the dress. Her waist is much narrower than the rest of her body and seems to be very well proportioned. The outline of the pubic triangle is well defined perhaps to represent her womanhood. The emphasis on this area is common amongst most Old Kingdom statues of women. Her hips and thighs are rounded and her kneecaps are visible through the dress. Her ankles are the same width as her leg and the artist did little to differentiate between where the leg ends and the ankle begins. Her toes point straight out and bear a similar appearance to her fingers.