Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Ptah

Period:
Late Period–Ptolemaic Period
Date:
664–30 B.C.
Geography:
From Egypt
Medium:
Cupreous metal, precious metal inlay
Dimensions:
H. 6.4 cm (2 1/2 in.); W. 1.8 cm (11/16 in.); D. 2.1 cm (13/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1944
Accession Number:
44.4.32
Not on view
This statuette depicts Ptah, the chief god of Egypt's capital city Memphis and master craftsman of the gods. He is easy to identify by his tight-fitting cap, straight beard (different from the usual curved divine beard on other gods), and enveloping garment. Inlaid gold draws out his features and adornments. The space around the eyes as well as the cosmetic line, rather than the eyes themselves (which is more common), are inlaid with gold, as are his eyebrows and lustrous broad collar. Three deep incised bands on the beard likely would have been inlaid as well. His garment has a stiff upper edge along the back of the neck, a feature that occurs with some regularity also on Osiris statuettes, but its meaning is unclear. A large triple strap suspension loop sits below this ridge.

A shallowly carved oval area on his chest brings his hands and scepter into sharper relief, and may be intended to represent slits in the cloak itself. Commonly Ptah holds a scepter that combines the symbols for life (ankh), dominion (was), and stability (djed), but here he holds only the was scepter. Ptah was benevolent and approachable, characteristics that may have inspired his devotees to dedicate numerous representations of him in the Late and Ptolemaic Periods.
J. Pierpont Morgan Collection, acquired by him from Maurice Nahman, Cairo, before 1913. Acquired by the Museum from the Estate of J. P. Morgan, 1944.

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