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A rare Egyptian Wood & Polychrome Divine Animal Box, 26th Dynasty, ca. 664 - 525 BC

This colorfully painted box was intended for the storage of a "divine animal". Its shape imitates a naos shrine, with gently sloping sides, footed base and a lid kept in place with four wood dowels.  The lid and the exterior of the box are primarily decorated in white pigment with double doors drawn in red on three sides and a frieze of black, red and white around the top edge of the box, again on three sides.  One side of the box remains undecorated.   The platform edge contains small inscriptions of early demotic funerary text, as does the interior of the wood lid, unusually inscribed in both red and black pigment and partially translated to read:  "... Khnum, our lord..."

After being looked after during their lifetime and receiving personal names, individual "divine animals" were mummified and dedicated to gods post mortem.  It is possible this box is an animal coffin that originally either contained a mummy dedicated to Khnum the god, or the mummy of a small animal (such as an ibis) named itself after Khnum.

Dimensions:  Height:  12 1/2" (31.5 cm) Width: 8 3/4 (22.3 cm) Depth: 10" (25.5 cm)

Condition:   There is discoloration mainly to one side from the piece lying on its side, some expected minor losses to wood and polychrome that do not detract.   The box is intact and in very good condition overall with excellent polychrome remaining.

Provenance:  The Simonian Family Collection of Ancient Art, Switzerland, acquired in the 1960's and then by descent, legally imported into the USA in 2016.

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