Exhibition catalogue, Köstlichkeiten aus Kairo!, Antikensmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig und Museum August Kestner Hannover, 2008, pp. 116-117, no. 61.
The wooden body would have once been gilded; cf. a similar ibis slotted into a wooden base from the ibiotapheion of Tuna el-Gebel, near Hermopolis in Middle Egypt (Cairo Museum JE 71972). The details on the head were probably worked once the bronze was cold.
The ibis was sacred to the god Thoth who was the god of knowledge, time, mathematics, and writing, as well as the divine messenger identified with Hermes in the Greek period. Among his main places of worship, which included his centre at Hermopolis, was the sacred site at Saqqara which received countless pilgrims who would pause at the nearby breeding lake to secure one of the millions of ibises which would later be mummified, potted and placed in the vast catacombs adjoining the temple which maintained the cult and cult-statue of the ibis-headed Thoth. Even during the 19th Century no visit to Egypt was complete without a visit to the 'Tomb of the Birds' at Saqqara; see A. Leahy and J. Tait (eds.), Studies on Ancient Egypt in honour of H. S. Smith, London, 1999, pp. 209-214. Thoth, whose word created the universe, is often shown with Maat who maintained the cosmic balance of the universe.