Egypt, Late Dynastic to Ptolemaic period, ca. 664 to 30 BCE. An intriguing example of a hand-carved wooden votive object depicting a fish riding in a boat. The piscine creature has an elongated ovoid body, a pair of petite circular eyes painted in black, and a triangular tail projecting off of the verso. The fish is attached to an integral rectangular plinth, and a trio of mortises on the bottom fit over a corresponding number of thin dowels on the boat. The slender boat has pointed ends and an ovoid ornament on the front. Areas of white gesso are painted with yellow and black pigments and give the composition a colorful presentation. Size: 6.5" L x 2.8" H (16.5 cm x 7.1 cm); 4.75" H (12.1 cm) on included custom stand.
This fish may represent a Nile perch. Interestingly, the Egyptians also mummified fish - wrapping them in bandages and binding them together with rope made of palm fibers. Scores of pilgrims would have travelled to sacred sites throughout Egypt in order to give votive offerings to the gods. Various locations in the Nile Valley and the Delta were associated with specific gods and their relevant animal cults. Nile perch were sacred to the goddess Neith - an early goddess worshipped as the first creator of the universe. According to legend, she declared, "I am the things that are, that will be, and that have been . . ."
Provenance: private J.H. collection, Beaverton, Oregon, USA; ex-Arte Primitivo Gallery, New York, New York, USA; ex-Secret Eye Gallery, New York, New York, USA, acquired in the 1970s
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Fish reattached to boat, with small chips and light adhesive residue along break lines. Minor chipping to original painted gesso, fading to pigmentation, and nicks to fish, integral plinth, and boat. Great patina and nice traces of original pigment throughout.