Egypt, Ptolemaic Dynasty, ca. 305 to 30 BCE. A vibrant rendering of the Goddess Nut painted on a wooden sarcophagus panel standing between stylized papyrus plants in composite profile, wearing a tripartite wig, a close fitting sheath dress, with a prominent sun disk headdress surrounded by an abstract black outlined arch with a blue sky band above, all delineated in russet red, tan, black, white, and sky blue hues on a white ground. Size: 14.5" W x 55" H (36.8 cm x 139.7 cm)
This depiction features a sun disk above Nut's head surmounted by a band of blue pigment, likely symbolizing the sky as Nut (also Nunut, Nuit) was the goddess and personification of the Sky and the celestial realm. She is regarded as the barrier separating the ordered cosmos of the world from the forces of chaos. In some depictions, Nut was portrayed as a woman arched on her toes and fingertips over the earth; her sacred body representing a star-filled sky. Nut's fingers and toes as such were believed to touch the four cardinal directions: north, south, east, and west. According to Egyptian mythology, Nut is a daughter of Shu ("he who rises up" or the personification of air) and Tefnut (goddess of moisture, dew, and rain); her husband and brother is Geb (god of the earth, father of snakes, whose laughter could bring about earthquakes and fertile crops), and she has four children: Osiris, Set, Isis, and Nephthys. Nut was also grandaughter of Ra or Atum, the creator god. The Coffin Texts describe Nut as "she of the braided hair who bore the gods". In one fascinating myth, Nut gives birth to the Sun-god each day, and he passes over her body during the day only to be swallowed at night and reborn the next morning.
Provenance: Ex-Hagar Collection, Ex-private North Carolina collection acquired in the 1980's
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Surface wear with a few impressed areas that most likely correspond with locales of former attachment and pigment loss as shown. Some repainting of figure. Wood repaired from 5 pieces. Some original dowels remain.