17: An Egyptian Bronze Statuette of Anubis
Late Period, circa 26th dynasty. A rare statuette in bronze of the god Anubis in a striding position with his arms held to sides, wearing a pleated loincloth and bands around his arms ad wrists. His head shows the usual combination of a jackal's head and the lappets and other parts of a human headdress. Solid cast, with incised details, on a rectangular, integral base which was mounted into a black lucite base. 3-1/2"H (9.1 cm).
Anubis was the god of the necropolis and of embalming, but his tasks not only included to take care of the mummy but also to destroy all enemies of Osiris, to assist during a ritual called "Opening of the Mouth" before the funeral, or in general to ensure a good burial as well as offerings. The Old Kingdom Pyramid Texts add that Anubis was responsible for counting the hearts. He also took part in the judgment of the dead, where he could be seen (vignette for spell 125 of the Book of the Dead) leading the deceased to the scales on which the heart would be weighed and subsequently towards Osiris. Because of this last task as "escort of souls" he was equated in Graeco-Roman times with Hermes.
The statuette was investigated in a completely non-destructive way, using neutron prompt gamma activation analysis, at the Budapest Neutron Centre. This was not done because of authenticity doubts but to add the composition spectra of this statuette to a database of authentic objects. During this investigation no indications of forgery were found; the elemental composition is consistent with what is known from other objects from the same period.
Although depictions of Anubis are common (mostly in funerary context), statuettes in bronze are much more rarely seen on the market. Literature: Jacques F. Aubert – Liliane Aubert, Bronzes et or Egyptien (Paris, 2001), p. 250-252; pls. 10-11.
PROVENANCE: Private US collection (1970s); private German collection R.H.
(there is a reserve on this lot)