720 BC to 300 BC
7.25″ (18.4cm) high
At first glance, this bronze statuette of Osiris appears to be very unassuming. The god of the Hereafter is represented in the time-honored manner as a figure standing upon an integral base from which protrudes a tang for insertion into a now-missing base. We can, therefore, suggest that this figure was part of a larger group composition which may have included a depiction of an elite member of Egyptian society, in smaller scale, kneeling in obeisance before this god. Osiris is represented as a mummiform figure with his hands protruding from beneath his stylized mummy bandages in order to hold the crook and flail, his traditional attributes. His accessories include a plaited beard which slips down under his chin and an atef-crown, the White Crown of which is flanked on each side by a single ostrich feature representing “truth.” This crown is fronted by a uraeus, or sacred cobra.
This object is separated from more routine depictions of Osiris in bronze by the attention paid to the depiction on its back. There in raised relief, is a depiction of his sister and wife, Isis, facing right. She is shown standing on a tall, reticulated base, perhaps intended to suggest her throne. Her striated headdress supports her attribute in the form of a pair of cow’s horns framing a solar disc. Her tightly fitting sheath is ornamented with linear detail, suggesting the pattern textile from which it was woven. She is equipped with wings which she spreads out over the back of her husband in an eternal gesture of protection. Such depictions are exceedingly rare in the repertoire of ancient Egyptian bronze representations of Osiris, but a good parallel is provided by a similarly designed statuette in a private collection in Belgium. On the basis of their styles, such images can be dated to the Late Period.
References: For the example in Belgium, see, J. F. and L. Aubert, Bronzes et or Egyptiens (Paris 2001), pages 215 and 446, plate 30.
Description and interpretation kindly provided by Prof. Robert S. Bianchi.Login to view price