Jun 19, 2007
Jun 19, 2007
Jun 19, 2007
Jun 19, 2007

Baboon on a Limestone Base

Baboon on a Limestone Base

380–30 BC

Pale turquoise faience

Overall: 10 x 4.5 x 7.5 cm (3 15/16 x 1 3/4 x 2 15/16 in.)

Gift of Mrs. Noah L. Butkin 1988.154

Location

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The statuette is made from Egyptian faience and is glazed with a pale, semigloss turquoise.

Description

This finely carved Papio hamadrayas baboon squats low on a base, hands on knees in a traditional pose, copied from nature. Mane and mantle are incised with a scalloped pattern to imitate tufts of fur, and the sides of the face are stippled or dotted. The separate limestone base is ancient; judging by the inscription it does not belong with the statuette, which has been glued onto it in modern times. It reads, "Words spoken by Harpocrates, given life and health, lord of heaven, (on behalf of) Padiuser, the son of Usernakht and [mother's name uncertain]."
The baboon is the sacred animal of Thoth, god of the moon and of writing, and guide of the deceased in the underworld. Thoth's cult reached immense popularity in the Late and Ptolemaic periods (the Greeks identified him with Hermes). Statuettes of Thoth as a baboon are common, although not nearly as numerous as presentations of Thoth's other animal manifestation, the sacred Ibis.

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