c. 2575-2525 BC
Egyptian, Old Kingdom

Khafre, of the Old Kingdom's Dynasty IV, is best known for his pyramid (one of the three Great Pyramids of Gizeh) and the Sphinx which bears his likeness. The material of this statue, which is approximately life-size, is diorite, an extremely hard stone and chosen for its sense of permanence—the permanence of kingship. Here we see Khafre as a god-king—ruler of his subjects not just in the present but in the afterlife as well. He is eternal and as such he is depicted with an athletic physique in the prime of life regardless of his actual age at the time of the statue's carving. This is a convention that most pharaohs followed in their royal images with the most notable exception being the "heretic king" Akhenaton in the New Kingdom. The overall effect is of profound dignity.

Side View

Khafre (Side View)

His divine authority is projected by:

  1. His royal linen headdress (similar to the one worn by the Sphinx).
  2. He is wearing the royal artificial beard (even the female pharaoh Hatshepsut is shown in her portraits wearing a beard).
  3. He is sitting on the throne of Egypt which is decorated with powerful looking lions and intertwined lotus and papyrus plants, symbols of a unified Egypt.
  4. The falcon god, Horus (refer back to the Palette of Narmer) is sitting on the back of Khafre's throne with his wings protectively around the king's neck. This pose illustrates Khafre's close relationship with his fellow god.