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Egyptian Bronze Figure - Seated Harpocrates

Egypt, Late Dynastic Period, 26th to 31st Dynasty, ca. 664 to 332 BCE. A cast-bronze figurine depicting the child god Harpokrates (from the Egyptian "Her-pa-khered," literally "Horus the child"). He sits nude with both legs bent in front of his thin body, his right index finger extended to his mouth and left arm held to his side. Though faded, his face displays almond-shaped eyes, a wide nose, perky ears, and a drooping, separately-cast sidelock of hair. He wears a tall double crown with a frontal uraeus, symbolizing his rule over the unified Upper and Lower Egypt. Lustrous espresso-hued patina envelops the figure, with scattered areas of verdant green and pale-russet patina adding a touch of color. Custom museum-quality display stand included. Size: 1" W x 3.2" H (2.5 cm x 8.1 cm); 4" H (10.2 cm) on included custom stand.

Harpokrates (also Harpocrates) was, in many ways, one of the most popular deities in the Egyptian pantheon for centuries on end. The offspring of Osiris and Isis, Harpokrates was originally thought to be a protective deity, warding dangerous magic and creatures away from the wielder of his effigy. His depiction as a child was a common sight in ancient Egypt as infantile gods were favored to their adult characterizations from roughly the Third Intermediate Period on into Greco-Roman times. Created mostly as temple votives, child gods were thought to have a higher concentration of power and influence, thus making for a stronger prayer request when left as an offering.

References to Harpokrates appeared in classical literature, including Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 277 (Roman mythographer c. 2nd century CE) and of course Ovid's Metamorphoses as we see in the following passage, "She saw before her bed, or seemed to see as in a dream, great (Egyptian goddess) Isis with her train of holy deities. Upon her brow there stood the crescent moon-horns, garlanded with glittering heads of golden grain, and grace of royal dignity: and at her side . . . (Harpocrates) the god who holds his finger to his lips for silence's sake." (Ovid, Metamorphoses 9.688 ff - trans. Melville - Roman epic ca. 1st century BCE to 1st century CE).

For a stylistically-similar standing example, please see The Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession number 04.2.613: https://metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/558376

Condition: Small loss to sidelock of hair, uraeus, verso, and side of neck. Possible restoration to one ear. Surface wear and abrasions commensurate with age as expected, fading to finer details on face, hands, and feet, darkening to coloration, and light roughness across most surfaces. Light earthen deposits within recessed areas. Nice espresso-hued patina throughout, with scattered areas of green and russet patina as well.

Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection

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