Egypt, Late Dynastic to Ptolemaic period, ca. 664 to 30 BCE. A hand-carved wooden figurine of a falcon representing Horus, the falcon-headed god of the sky. The avian figure stands on a pair of rod-form legs that are attached to a rectangular plinth and has a broad tail, a thick body, and a perky head. Both bird and base are covered in layers of gesso and then painted with red, black, and pink pigments to form feathers, feet, and wings. Avian effigies like this example were important symbols in ancient Egypt that were used in a variety of ceremonial and cult-related events. Size: 4.4" W x 5.4" H (11.2 cm x 13.7 cm).
The ancient Egyptians believed that their pharaoh was a personification of Horus the sky god - depicted as either a falcon-headed man donning the pschent (a red and white crown) to symbolize his reign over Egypt or as the bird itself - a powerful icon of power, speed, and talent for hunting - as we see in this example. This association between Horus and the king existed from the early Dynastic period (ca. 3100 BCE); however, the Horus king cult became very popular during the Ptolemaic Period. Additionally, statues of Horus were created to adorn temples as an image of kingship - capturing an image of Horus on earth.
Provenance: private J.H. collection, Beaverton, Oregon, USA; ex-Sands of Time, Washington, D.C.; ex-private California, USA collection, acquired in the 1960s and thence by descent
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Figure is removable from legs, and legs are removable from rectangular plinth. Minor nicks and abrasions to head, body, tail, and base, with fading to original pigmentation, and chipping to areas of gesso. Nice traces of original painted gesso throughout.