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Egyptian, late Ptolemaic period, 700-300 BC

This two-part, mummy-shaped, polychrome painted wooden figure shows the god of resurrection, Ptah-Sokar-Osiris. The creator-god Ptah, the god of the dead Sokar, as well as the god of resurrection and Lord of the realm of the dead, Osiris, have merged here into a unity in the old Egyptian faith. The colouring of the whole statuette is of great importance. The yellow (gold) of the face stood for the divine. The white of the eyes was a sign of purity, innocence and holiness. The blue of the wig stood for lapis lazuli, from which the hair of the Osiris is said to have been according to PT148, or also for life and rebirth. The mummy-shaped body is a well-known feature of Osiris, while the high crown of feathers (in this example missing) is usually associated with the two other gods that form the syncretic unity in question, the Memphitic deities Ptah and Sokaris. On the front and back of this PSO, there is a single column with detailed, qualitative hieroglyphic text describing the deceased as Heryesenef. Very nice face with almond eyes and a light smile. A rare style, because it consists of two halves, which are composed like a small mummy's coffin with cones and cones. Traces of linen for a grain mummy that is still preserved inside. Similar "corn mummies" were produced in the Ptolemaic period during the elaborate temple rituals in the month of Khoiak. The Ptah-Sokar-Osiris figures express the same symbolism, now for the benefit of the private grave owner. They were often divided into two halves, hollowed out like a coffin to contain the grain mummy as in this example. The most remarkable in this respect is the figure's finish with gold leaf over a white gesso cover. Gold is not only a precious material, it is a divine substance: According to the ancient Egyptians was the flesh of the gods made of gold and their bones of silver. Because gold does not corrode, it has become a symbol of eternity and immortality. Its connection with the sun and its invigorating rays also contributed to this symbolism. Thus gold is the most suitable material for figures of deities, especially for resurrection cartridges like Ptah-Sokar-Osiris.

Such syncretistic wooden statuettes were a frequent burial object from the late period to the Greek-Roman era. M. Raven has attempted to classify and date the Ptah-Sokar-Osiris statuettes on the basis of the specimens kept in Leiden. The present statuette corresponds to Raven's Type IV C (Open Coffin type). He classifies it as statuettes with a red or black body and a gilded face. Swty crown, blue wig and sometimes divine beard. If a collar should be shown, it is the wsh n bik with antithetic falcon heads as ends. Neither arms nor hands are shown. Pillars at the rear side. According to Raven, the standard text of type IV may be translated as follows: Words spoken by the the Osiris “Hail to thee, heir, who proceeded from this god, spittle which proceeded from Atum, divine body that returned, great god, ruler of the Thinite nome, who appeared from the dew out of the left eye, ruler of the realm of the dead in the twilight. The great god has returned, coming forth from the primeval water. He has already been ruling when he came forth from it. He is shining in the sky as Orion, his followers are the unwearying stars. He supports the heaven which is rejoicing under her master. The inhabitants are in jubilation for the ka of the Osiris N. Every protection is his protection.”

While wooden statuettes of the Ptah-Sokar-Osiris were initially protective containers for the precious papyrus, which contained either parts of the Book of the Dead or the Underworld Book of Amduat, they were later taken up as a miniature coffin containing Grain Osiris figures, for which the brick-shaped base was sometimes used as a container (for Type III, IV and miscellaneous according to Raven). According to stylistic features, this significant change took place probably during the transition from the Cushite to the Saite period. Compare the example of the London British Museum. The present example corresponds to the subtype IV C: Magnificent statuettes with red bodies, golden face, wsh n bik with many rows and motifs. Normally there are three rows of hieroglyphs on the front. For examples with only one row please compare Amsterdam, Cairo Exh. nos. 386, 5024, 5033, 6015, 6019 and 6870. Reference objects can be found e. g. in: KHM Vienna, Cairo and the Louvre


58 cm


Private collection USA

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