Ancient Egypt, Third Intermediate to Late Dynastic Period, 21st to 31st Dynasty, ca. 1070 to 332 BCE. A beautiful hand-carved limestone lid for a canopic jar used for storing and preserving the internal organs of a mummy. The lid consists of a discoid plug beneath the stylized head of Imsety, the human-headed son of Horus who is the guardian of the liver. His visage is comprised of fine almond-shaped eyes below thin brows, a slender nose with flared nostrils, puffy cheeks, full lips with indented corners, and lobed ears, all surrounded by a tripartite wig. Traces of original pigmentation are visible within recessed areas around the face, making this a well-detailed example of fine Egyptian lapidary artistry! Size: 4.25" W x 3.625" H (10.8 cm x 9.2 cm); 5.25" H (13.3 cm) on included custom stand.
Canopic jars are some of the most iconic artifacts from Egypt, made to hold internal organs removed during the mummification process. This tradition lasted for an incredibly long time - the first evidence for a canopic chest containing organs comes from the Fourth Dynasty (ca. 2600 BCE) and they were used into the late 1st millennium BCE. The 18th Dynasty marked a shift in canopic jar tradition, when these jars were given to all people of status, and when their heads were fashioned to look like the four Sons of Horus, including Imsety. The Four Sons were charged with protecting the internal organs, as they had originally been charged with protecting the body of Osiris. Imsety protected the liver, was oriented with the south direction, and was himself protected by the goddess Isis.
Cf. an example carved from alabaster at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession number 30.8.125a, b
This piece has been searched against the Art Loss Register database and has been cleared. The Art Loss Register maintains the world's largest database of stolen art, collectibles, and antiques.
Provenance: private Healy collection, Studio City, California, USA, acquired in December 2018; ex-Artemis Gallery; ex-private East Coast, USA collection, acquired from Arte Primitivo, Lot 215, June 7, 2010; ex-Arte Primitivo, New York City, New York, USA; ex-private New York, New York collection, USA
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Surface wear and abrasions commensurate with age and use, minor nicks to nose, face, headdress, and bottom plug, and loss to most original pigmentation, otherwise intact and excellent. Great retention to facial details and nice earthen deposits throughout.