TITLE: Goddess Isis suckling Harpocrates CULTURE: Ancient Egypt PERIOD: 26th Dynasty, 664 - 525 B.C. MATERIAL: Faience SIZE: Height 14,3 cm. REF: 20141284 PRICE: 3,000 Euros. PROVENANCE: Private collection, Europe. CONDITION: CONDITION: In a good state of preservation. Intact apart from the point at the end of the right horn of the goddess headdress. DESCRIPTION: A figure of the goddess Isis seated on a throne and suckling her son, Horus. The original base was most probably a wooden one but has been lost. Over her tripartite wig the goddess is wearing her characteristic crown with a sun disc between two cow horns.
This is a representation of the goddess Isis on her throne nursing her son, Horus. She is wearing a headdress shaped like a small throne, representing her name which means â€œShe of the throneâ€ which is derived from the hieroglyphic "Ast". Her hair, in the form of a tripartite wig, appears in a blue tone deeper than that of the rest of the figure. Isis is sitting on a throne decorated with feathers and the image of Sema-Tawy, the symbol of the union of Egypt, on either side. The god Harpocrates, Horus as a child, is seated on her lap. His head is held by the left hand his mother. Her right hand is pressed to her breast, symbolizing the act of nursing. In sum, the scene shows a mother, par excellence, protecting her child and suckling him. It is one of the most popular aspects of the character of Isis.
The goddess Isis, according to myth, is the daughter of Geb and Nut, and sister of Osiris, to whom she was also considered to be wed. As a deity she was referred to as: "Great mother goddess", â€œGreat Sorceress", "Queen of the Gods", "Fecundating Force of Nature" and "Goddess of Maternity and Birth".
Osiris reigned in Ancient Egypt in peace, harmony and with wisdom. The Nile fertilized the earth and the crops were abundant. One day, Osiris set off to discover other civilizations and left his kingdom under the control of his wife, Isis. Set, his jealous brother, felt humiliated as he thought that he should rule rather than Isis. When Osiris returned he was murdered by his brother. The goddess Isis, with the aid of other divinities like Nephthys and Anubis, sought out and found the cut-up pieces of her husband and put them together through special rites. After physical union with the god she conceived a child. The posthumous son of Osiris was to be the Horus-child, Harpocrates, who later, would wreak revenge on Set for his father's murder.
As one of the main deities, Isis was worshipped in all periods in the history of Egypt, and it was in the final epoch that the largest temple was built to her on the island of Philae. The Greco-Roman world adopted her characteristics and associated them with Aphrodite and Venus. Another of her principal characteristics, that of being "Mother of God", would also be relevant in the cults influencing Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity.
Harpocrates, the Horus-child, is a native of Heliopolis as the son of Isis and Osiris. He was worshipped in many sanctuaries, like those of Edfu, Thebes, Coptos, Mendes, etc., in which he was venerated in other forms adopted from Horus. Harpocrates is the living symbol of the rising sun at the beginning of spring. He was born after the death of his father, Osiris. He is represented then as a defenseless child whom his mother, the goddess Isis, had to hide in the swamps of the Nile Delta, to protect him from the evil Set, his fatherâ€™s brother. But in the same way that the weak newly-risen sun becomes a powerful sun as it rises higher, the god-child became the powerful Horus, the avenger of his fatherâ€™s death, fighting against Set. His mother, Isis, in this way changed him into the great Horus who reigned over men and gods.