Art/ Collection/ Art Object


Late Period–Ptolemaic Period
664–30 B.C.
From Egypt
Cupreous metal
H. 14 cm (5 1/2 in.); W. 3 cm (1 3/16 in.); D. 5 cm (1 15/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Gift of Joseph W. Drexel, 1889
Accession Number:
Not on view
The god Nefertum was born out of a lotus flower on the mound of creation; thus he was closely connected with the sun, creation, and with the lotus, but also, more broadly, sweet-smelling, pleasant things. Nefertum was the son of Ptah and of the lion-goddess Sakhmet, and is sometimes envisioned as the son of Bastet or certain other great female lion goddesses. He had a martial aspect, but also a protective one, mirroring some of the contrasting but complementary qualities of Sakhmet and Bastet. In later periods, his protective aspect expanded and he was a symbol of good fortune, which perhaps in part explains his prominent role as a subject for statuettes and amulets.
In copper alloy statuettes, he is shown, almost without exception, as a beautiful man who wears a crown comprised of a lotus blossom framed by menat symbols and topped with two tall feathers; the menats derive from his association with feline goddesses. Behind the crown, Nefertum has a suspension loop at the base of the crown, a common feature on Nefertum statuettes whether large or small. Some comparable statuettes hold their hands at the side, while others, as here, hold a sickle-shaped object, probably an ostrich feather fan.
Donated by Joseph W. Drexel, Philadelphia, 1889.

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