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Nov. 5 Art Minute: Raramu and Ankhet

Art Minute, Art of the Week, toledo museum of art
Egyptian, from the tomb of Raramu in the cemetery at Giza (Old Kingdom, Dynasty 6, 2323–2150 BCE) Raramu and Ankhet. Limestone with paint, about 2400 BCE. Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey, 1949.4

"I shall never be far away from you/While my hand is in your hand/And I shall Stroll with you/In every favorite place." –from an ancient Egyptian love poem

This statue of Raramu, an official of modest rank, and his wife Ankhet shows Ankhet with her arm around her husband’s shoulders. It is both a gesture of tenderness and a traditional symbol of their married state. The sculpture comes from Raramu’s tomb and indicates the expectation that the couple would spend eternity together in the afterlife.

In ancient Egypt a stable family was considered the basic unit of a stable society. Marriage was arranged between the parents of the bride and groom, who provided agreed upon gifts to make the union official. Though bride and groom may not have chosen each other, romantic love was valued in Egyptian culture, and it was hoped that a couple would come to love one another as they lived their lives together and raised children.

This work is currently on view in the exhibition Frans Hals Portraits: A Family Reunion.