History of Art

Thien Nguyen
Art 100
A ka statue is a type of ancient Egyptian statue intended to provide a resting place for the ka (life-force or spirit) of the person after death. The ancient Egyptians believed the ka along with the physical body, the name, the ba (personality or soul), and the šwt (shadow), made up the five aspects of a person.
After death, the ethereal aspects of the soul were believed to be released from the body, free to roam the earth, but required the physical body or a surrogate, such as the ka statue, to return to as a permanent home.
Ka statues could also be set up as a type of memorial for the deceased in absentia; for example in Abydos hundreds were set up to allow the dead to participate in the yearly festivals commemorating the resurrection of Osiris.[1]
Because the ancient Egyptians believed statues could magically perceive the world, they were ceremonially brought to life by priests in a special ritual called the Opening of the mouth ceremony. In the full version of this ceremony, the mouth, eyes, nose, and ears could be touched with ritual implements to give the statue the power of breath, sight, smell, and hearing
In order to create this sculpture in-the-round, the sculptor used the subtractive method. He began with a cube-shaped stone block of diorite. First, the sculptor drew the front, back, and two profile views of Khafre on the four vertical faces of the stone.[4] After the sketched plans were made, the sculptor chiseled away the excess stone on all four sides until the plans came together, meeting at right angles. The last step was sculpting specific details of Khafre’s body and face, carving the falcon god Horus, and other designs on the throne. The subtractive method allows the sculptor to create a block-like look for Khafre’s ka statue, a standard for Egyptian sculpture during this time period. In addition to the subtractive method, abrasion, rubbing or grinding the surface was used to finish the product off. The...