TITLE: Osiris God
CULTURE: Ancient Egypt
PERIOD: Late Period, 664 - 323 B.C.
SIZE: Height 11.6 cm.
PRICE: 1,800 euros.
PROVENANCE: Private asian collection, acquired in 1975.
CONDITION: Very good condition, intact.
This solid bronze figure represents the god Osiris. It has been made with the lost-wax casting technique. There are two rings on the back of the figure so that it can be hung up.
This image follows the canonical iconography of Osiris: the god is wrapped in a shroud that perfectly hugs the contours of his body, which proportions are slender and elegant. In his hands, he holds the flagellum (the nekhekh scepter, visible in the left hand) and the hekat scepter, the shepherds crook.
On his head he wears his usual headgear, the atef crown, composed of the white crown of Upper Egypt, flanked by two ostrich feathers; a snake descends down the front of the headgear, where, just above the forehead, the head of the ureus would have been attached. The chin is adorned with a long false beard with braided locks, terminating in a ringlet. He wears, as an ornament, a large circular necklace composed of different types of beads and provided with a small trapezoidal counterweight.
Originally, the figure of Osiris was linked to the fecundity of the Egyptian soil, the renewal of vegetation and the world of shepherds, as evidenced by the hekat scepter. He embodied the fertile land and the arable fields, and became therefore the guardian of the order of the universe and the cycles of nature. But the most famous myth concerning him is the one in connection with his death, known through many versions: the son of Geb (the earth) and Nut (the sky) and the husband of Isis, the god primarily was a pharaoh. With Isis, they were a pair of royal benefactors who taught mankind farming and fishing (Osiris), weaving and medicine (Isis). Jealous of the sovereign, his brother Seth assassinated him, cut up his body and disposed of the pieces in the Nile. However, Isis, his wife and faithful widow, found and reassembled the body of her husband and, with the help of her sister, Nephtys, and of Anubis, she embalmed the corpse. After breathing life into him for a short instant, Isis was impregnated by Osiris: this union resulted in the birth of Horus, who, following in the footsteps of his father, became Pharaoh. And so, after having survived the ordeal of death, Osiris triumphed thanks to the magic of his wife and became the ruler of the underworld, which contained the seeds of life and, at the same time, was the protector of the deceased, to whom he would promise life after death.
These two closely related characteristics linking the god of fecundity and the funerary divinity were certainly the basis for the success Osiris enjoyed in the Egyptian world: from the New Kingdom on, and especially during the entire 1st millennium B.C., statuettes of Osiris were among the most important funerary offerings.