Egyptian - Statuette of a Male Dwarf - Walters 71504 - Right
Dwarfs played an important role in Egyptian society. Dwarfism-a genetic condition characterized by unusually short stature and shortened limbs-is frequently represented in Egyptian tomb reliefs and statues, and the remains of dwarfs have been found in tombs associated with the royal cemeteries. Dwarfs could hold important positions in the administration of the ancient Egyptian government, they also worked as jewelers, and performed in special rituals (in which they were called "god's dancers"). Some were believed, because of their unusual appearance, to have supernatural powers and a special relation to the gods. Figurines of dwarfs were used as amulets and have been found in tombs as well as in ritual areas.
This statuette displays the nude figure of a dwarf. His hands are clasped and resting on his chest; a cylindrical hole through the hands was once used to hold a staff. A square tapering cavity has been cut into the head, probably for the attachment of a headdress. The feet are broken off above the ankles. The knees are bent and it is possible to interpret the posture as dancing. A grouped statuette of three dancing dwarfs from the Middle Kingdom which was excavated at Lisht displays similar postures.