Statuette of Osiris - ROM2016_15146_54


Statuette of Osiris

Medium:Bronze, cast
Geography: Undetermined site, Egypt
Date: c. 664-332 BC
Period: 26th-30th Dynasty, Late Period
18 x 4 cm
Object number: 910.92.53
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 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 Lord of the Dead, Osiris was a comforting and reassuring deity, not a frightful one.

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