Ancient Egypt, Third Intermediate Period to Late Period, Dynasties 22 to 26, ca. 945 to 525 BCE. A copper alloy ibis, posed as if standing in the shallow waters on the shores of the Nile, with its large feet drawn beneath its body, its neck curved up and back in a reverse S shape, and its visage delineated with incised naturalistic eyes and a long, curved beak. A close look reveals more details - incised linear delineation of the separation between the bird's upper and lower beak, incised rings and a low relief band of plumage around the neck, outlines of wings and tailfeathers, and remarkable talons. The patina on this piece boasting vivid turquoise and blue and well as warm, deep coppery hues contributes even more to its beauty. Size: 2.875" L x 2.875" H (7.3 cm x 7.3 cm); 4.375" H (11.1 cm) on included custom stand.
Larger ibises shaped just like this one but with bronze heads and legs attached to hollow wooden bodies were used by the Egyptians to hold the mummified remains of ibises. The ibis, an elegant, long-legged wading bird that lives along the shores of the Nile, was associated with the god Thoth. He was the god of wisdom and writing, and in worship to him many thousands of ibises were ritually sacrificed, embalmed, and mummified before being buried in underground galleries. Thousands of these burials have been excavated at Sakkara, near Memphis, Egypt's ancient capital. This piece, a miniature bronze model of these ibis containers, may have served as a votive item, to be placed inside a tomb, or perhaps one bought by a pilgrim visiting Sakkara.
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection
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