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An Egyptian Bronze Head of Osiris, Late Period, ca 664-332 BC

the god of the underworld wearing a braided divine beard curved out at its tip, an atef-crown with incised plumes that is fronted by a uraeus, the idealizing features of the oval face very well detailed, the large almond eyes defined with cosmetic lines, finely arched eyebrows, small straight nose and full closed lips arched in the hint of a smile. The fine, delicate features of this example suggest a later date of Egyptian history where figures of the god were left by pilgrims at temples and other sacred sites. 

Background: A key in the funerary texts of all periods of Egyptian history was Osiris, god of the underworld; a title that developed from the mythological story explaining his existence. The earliest reference to Osiris dates to the Fifth Dynasty, when he is mentioned in the pyramid texts of King Unas, although the roots of his cult probably predate the Old Kingdom. It has been suggested that Osiris originated in the Delta city of Busiris, despite that fact that the god's primary cult center came to be located at Abydos, in upper Egypt, the site of the first royal necropolis of the dynastic period. Osiris likely originated as a funerary deity, and as such was usually shown mummiform, with arms and legs wrapped in the mummy bandages. His attributes include a divine beard and wig, and the atef crown, composed of a tall, conical head-dress flanked by plumes. Both king and private individuals adopted these attributes, especially the beard and wig in order to identify themselves with the god. Osiris was often depicted with a green or black face, colors that connected both death and regeneration. 

For related example see: Mummies, Coffins, and Ancient Egyptian Funerary Art in the Michael C. Carlos Museum: The Realm of Osiris,pg.15  (funerary Texts and Mythology) fig.2,  Statuette of Osiris 

Condition:  Originally from a statue of the god, the break lines with heavy signs of age, this finely rendered example is intact and in excellent condition overall, with traces of gilt remaining.  Museum quality custom mount.

Dimensions:   Height: 11.43 cm (4.5 inches) 

Provenance:   S.Bono private collection, Chicago, IL, acquired from the NY trade.


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