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An Egyptian polychrome wood Ba-bird with Gilding, Late Period, ca 664 - 332 BC

A fine wood figurine representing the soul or Ba, with finely painted features of red, green, yellow and black polychrome on applied gesso, wearing a blue wig and false beard, the facial features decorated with gilding to imitate the flesh of the gods, surmounted by a gilded solar disc, the wings, talons and breast feathers colored red, the legs with stippled feather details, shown standing on an integrated base, a hole for attachment. 

It was believed that after death the immoral qualities of the deceased left the body.  The "Ka" or life force remained near the tomb to enjoy the mortuary offerings.  The "Ba" however, flew away like a bird and there was always the danger that it would get lost.  One of the aims of embalming the body was to offer the Ba a safe haven, even after death.  Only if there was regular uniting of the body and soul would the deceased be able to survive in the Netherworld.

For similar finely painted representations of Ba birds, cf. S. D'Auria, P. Lacovara, C.H. Roehrig, Mummies and Magic, (Museum of Fine Arts Boston 1988), fig 148a and b, p.199-200.

Condition:  Intact and in very good condition overall, loss to the forehead professionally restored, and minor losses to the polychrome that do not detract. A charming and unique piece.

Dimensions:  Height:  6 1/2 inches (16.7 cm)

Provenance:  Steven Bono private collection, Chicago, IL, acquired from Anubis Ancient Art, Netherlands in 2001, previously in a private French collection.


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