TITLE: Statuette of Ba CULTURE: Ancient Egypt PERIOD: Late Period, 664 - 323 BC MATERIAL: Wood DIMENSIONS: Height 12 cm REF: 20142147 PRICE: 2,300 Euros PROVENANCE: Collection of A. Aróstegui, Madrid, acquired in the 1950s. CONDITION: In a good state of preservation. The original polychrome decoration remains. DESCRIPTION: A figure in the form of an animal, in this case a bird, but with a human head. It represents Ba, a name which refers to the “spirit” of the deceased. Figures like this were frequently found in sarcophagus, and also in wall reliefs or frescos found in the different chambers of tombs. Sculptural representations of Ba, usually made from wood, to be placed on the upper part of stelae or on the corners of certain sarcophagus, have only been found on a few occasions.
The animal has been carved from wood. The rectangular base is perforated on its lower surface so that it can be placed on top of another element be means of a wooden peg. The glue was spread on the back and front of the platform and the lower portion of the bird so that the figure could be placed in a specific space. The human head is wearing a tripartite wig which narrows down at the back between the wings. The triangular face has large angular eyes in black, fleshy lips and an Osiris-type false beard. The body of the bird has been painted in ochre enhanced with black vertical brush strokes to give the impression of abundant plumage. The wings are decorated in “Egyptian blue” with a symmetric diagonal line between them in ochre with reddish vertical lines, to give a sense of depth and volume to the piece.
For the ancient Egyptians, the human being was made up of three elements, both tangible and intangible. The exact nature of these elements is somewhat difficult to understand as they differ from our concept of the spiritual, and thus we do not have words to accurately describe them.
In Egyptian texts we find that the human being had a body jat, a spiritual body sahu, a “spirit” ba, a “doublé” ka, intelligence ju, a shadow jaibit, a form sejem, a heart or mind ib and a name ren. The body to be preserved was freed from the most easily perishable parts, then was cleaned with natron, filled with spices and aromatic plants, swathed in linen bandages and, protected by amulets and religious texts, it would wait in its tomb for the visit of its ba. Perhaps it was to be preserved thus until its resurrection.