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Egyptian Bronze Oxyrhynchus (Medjed Fish)

$2,995.00
Ancient Egypt, Late Period to Ptolemaic, 712 to 30 BCE. A heavy cast bronze figure of a fish wearing on its back a crown with horns, disc, and uraeus. Fish were sacred to the goddesses Hathor, Isis, and Mut, who gave them this distinctive headgear. Behind the headdress is a loop for suspension. The fish is a medjed, a species of elephant fish with a distinctive downturned snout. The figure is cast onto a long, flat base to allow it to stand. Size: 5.55" L x 1.6" W x 3.45" H (14.1 cm x 4.1 cm x 8.8 cm)

The ancient Egyptians worshipped this fish at the town of Medjed, which, after Alexander the Great's conquest, was renamed to be Oxyrhynchus in Greek. The fish played a role in one of the most important stories in Egyptian mythology, attesting to the rebirth and immortality of the god Osiris. Although there are many forms of the myth, the general outline of the story is this: Osiris and his queen Isis ruled Egypt. Osiris's brother, Set, had him murdered, but Isis, found his remains. She raised him from the dead using the sacred mysteries of mummification and he impregnated her; then he died again and she hid his body in the desert and gave birth to his son, Horus. Set, enraged, found Osiris's remains and tore his body into pieces that he scattered throughout the land. Isis gathered all of these up - except the penis, which had been eaten by the medjed. Many towns in Egypt claimed to be places where Osiris's body parts were found - towns could profit from pilgrims and worshippers - and Medjed was no exception. This figure, made of relatively expensive bronze, probably functioned as a ritual item held by a temple, or may have been a votive ornament purchased by a wealthy pilgrim or worshipper.

Condition: Smooth, dark patina, green in some places, over piece.

Provenance: ex-private East Coast, USA collection

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