Egypt, Ptolemaic to early Romano-Egyptian period, ca. 332 BCE to 1st century CE. A fabulous ensemble of two mold-formed glass appliques in soft hues of citrine, crimson, marigold, and turquoise. The first applique depicts a bust of the goddess Isis wearing a wavy vestment, a large circular pectoral medallion, and a radiant visage above her feminine visage. The second applique illustrates a right facing, human-headed avian effigy, known as a Ba Bird, with a rounded chest bearing folded wings while standing atop an integral plinth. Appliques like these examples were meant to be set into recessed cavities adorning limestone reliefs or wooden coffins and were created throughout the Ptolemaic and Romano-Egyptian periods. Size of largest (ba bird): 2.2" W x 3.125" H (5.6 cm x 7.9 cm)
The images of Isis and the Ba Bird were highly symbolic in Egyptian culture and particularly so when concerning their storied funerary traditions. According to the University of Southern California West Semitic Research Project, "Isis, along with her husband and brother, Osiris, was most often associated with the funerary cult and the afterlife. Together with three other goddesses, she was thought to guard the internal organs of a deceased person at the time of judgment." Though Isis and her companions protected the physical remains of an immobile mummy, one half of the deceased's soul was still able to traverse between the spiritual and corporeal realms.
In Egyptian visual culture, the Ba is oftentimes depicted as a winged Ba-bird symbolizing the ascension of the soul following death. The Egyptian concept of the Ba involves a free soul that may exist independently from the physical body. Hence, it leaves and reunites with the body when it wishes. Traditionally, the Ba-bird is presented in the vicinity of the mummy - other times it is shown entering or leaving the tomb. In addition, the Ba-bird was understood as the immutable essence of the deceased's soul, and loved ones would leave provisions in burial chambers so that the Ba-bird would be encouraged to visit its body regularly.
Provenance: ex-Dr. Sid Port collection, California, USA, acquired in the 1970s; ex-Norman Blankman collection, New York, USA, acquired in the 1950s in Cairo, Egypt
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Both items have been professionally cleaned and conserved. Both items have softening to finer details, fading and minor darkening to original glass color, and small nicks around the peripheries, otherwise intact and excellent. Smooth surfaces and light remains of original colors throughout.