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fl. Sixth Dynasty (c. 2350–2170 b.c.e.)

Overseer of Ka-priests

Priest and Dancer.

Khnumhotep left only a statue with inscriptions to mark his life on earth. The statue depicts a man who was a dwarf. He reached a mid-level managerial position as an overseer of ka-priests, the priests who perform the daily ritual for the deceased. Dwarfs were never the object of prejudice in Egyptian society. In fact, Egyptians associated dwarfs with the sun god, Re, and the god of dance and childbirth, Bes. In the inscription carved on Khnumhotep's statue, he speaks of dancing in the funerals of two sacred bulls. Sacred bulls, associated with the funeral god Osiris, were buried in special tombs in Saqqara. These dance performances must have been high points of Khnumhotep's career because he specifically mentions them. Khnumhotep is one of a very few male dancers known by name from ancient Egypt.


Ola el-Aguizy, "Dwarfs and Pygmies in Ancient Egypt," Annales du Service des Antiquités del l'Égypte 71 (1987): 53–60.

Auguste Mariette, Les mastabas de l'ancien empire (Paris: F. Vieweg, 1889): 435b.