• Antiquities  auction at Christies

    Sale 2232

    Antiquities

    11 December 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 30

    AN EGYPTIAN WOOD AND BRONZE IBIS

    LATE PERIOD TO PTOLEMAIC PERIOD, 664-30 B.C.

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    AN EGYPTIAN WOOD AND BRONZE IBIS
    LATE PERIOD TO PTOLEMAIC PERIOD, 664-30 B.C.
    Depicted reclining, the body sculpted in wood and covered in gesso, the head, tail and legs each separately cast of bronze and inserted, the legs folded under, the wrinkles of the toes each incised, tenons below, with a sinuous neck, two deep grooves along the length of the long hooked bill, the eyes recessed for now-missing inlays, the tail with incised zigzag, the closed wings articulated along the sides of the body
    16¾ in. (42.5 cm.) long


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    Thoth, a multipurpose god in the Egyptian pantheon associated with language, writing and intellectual activity, was most often depicted with an ibis head and human body. In the Late Period and Ptolemaic Period, ibises were bred throughout Egypt to be slaughtered, mummified and offered as votives to Thoth. Gilt, wood and bronze ibises, such as the present example, were often formed as coffins for mummified ibises, or as boxes for "dummy mummies" formed of straw and mud. With or without the mummy, the ibis-form figure would have likely been an offering to the god. For a fine ibis coffin and a further description of the type, see no. 91 in Fazzini, et al., Ancient Egyptian Art in the Brooklyn Museum.

    Provenance

    with Khodary M. El Gabry, Cairo, 1970.


    Pre-Lot Text

    Property from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Montgomery Fisher