Egypt, Late Dynastic Period, 26th to 31st Dynasty, ca. 664 to 332 BCE. A wonderful cast-bronze statuette of Thoth, the god of writing, accounting, and other intellectual pursuits. Thoth, typically depicted as an ibis-headed man, is shown here as a baboon seated atop an integral rectangular plinth. The hollow simian figure wears a fur-lined cape with a scalloped periphery on the verso, drapes both arms atop bent legs, and holds his back in a rigid, dignified posture. His serene face presents with almond-shaped eyes beneath thin brows, a hemispherical snout with incised nostrils and lips, and characteristic puffy cheeks, all surmounted by the lower half of a lunar disc. Mottled patina envelops the surfaces in hues of russet, brown, and green and makes for an attractive presentation. Size: 1.8" W x 3.5" H (4.6 cm x 8.9 cm); 4.25" H (10.8 cm) on included custom stand.
According to Egyptologists Erik Hornung and Betsy M. Bryan, "As primeval animals, baboons and green monkeys were prominent parts of the Egyptian cosmogony. The earliest gods are sometimes depicted with baboon heads. The baboon became an aspect of the sun god, Re . . . And of the moon god, Thoth-Khonsu. Thoth (Djehuty in ancient Egyptian) was the god of writing and knowledge, who was depicted in the form of two animals: the baboon (Papio cynocephalus) and the sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus). In his baboon form Thoth was closely associated with the baboon god, Hedj-wer (the great white one) of the Early Dynastic period. By the end of the Old Kingdom (2686 - 2181 BCE) he was usually portrayed as an ibis-headed man, holding a scribal palette and pen or a notched palm leaf, performing some kind of act of recording or calculation." (Hornung, Erik and Betsy M. Bryan, eds. "The Quest for Immortality: Treasures of Ancient Egypt." National Gallery of Art, Washington, 2002, p. 200)
A stylistically similar example, of a slightly larger size and with an intact moon disk, hammered for EUR 6,250 ($6,961.92) at Christie's, Paris "Collection Jean-Philippe Mariaud de Serres" auction (sale 1054, February 16-17, 2011, lot 204).
Provenance: private Lewis collection, Florida, USA
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Loss to top half of lunar disc as shown. Minor abrasions and nicks to integral plinth, body, and head, with softening to some finer details, and light encrustations. Great earthen deposits and lovely mottled patina throughout.