Statuette of seated Osiris - ROM2018_16853_2


Statuette of seated Osiris

Medium:Stone with gilding
Geography: Excavated at Saqqara, Egypt
Date: c. 664-332 BC
Period: 26th-30th Dynasty, Late Period
26 x 12.4 x 6.7 cm
Object number: 972.51.52
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt

Osiris is one of the best-known figures from Ancient Egyptian religion. In mythology, he was the son of Geb, the Earth, and Nut, the Sky. As king upon the earth, he introduced agriculture to Egypt, and ruled mankind with justice and mercy.  His powerful brother, Seth (or Sutekh) envied his kingship.  Though the Ancient Egyptians did not refer directly to the details of the story, Seth managed to kill his brother and cut the body into many pieces. Isis, the sister-wife of Osiris, however, was a powerful magician, and was able, with her sister Nephthys (or Neb-hwt) to collect the scattered pieces, wrap them together (making Osiris the first mummy) and temporarily resurrect her husband. The dead Osiris was able to impregnate Isis with his son and eventual avenger, Horus, before passing eternally into the Land of the Dead.  He rules the Afterlife, assuring all humans that justice, however rare in this world, prevails in the next.

In this stone statuette, Osiris appears as a mummy, wrapped from neck to ankles, yet able to carry the crook and flail as symbols of his rule over of all those who herd animals and all those who grow crops. He wears the Atef crown to show his kingship of the Land of the Dead. Though the statuette is small, it has an air of monumentality, and the god appears solid, eternal, trustworthy. The person who offered this image in a temple had the plain stone surface covered with gold leaf as a sign of his or her devotion.  Though Lord of the Dead, Osiris was a comforting and reassuring deity, not a frightful one.

Object History: Excavated by the Egypt Exploration Society, 1970-1972
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