Art/ Collection/ Art Object
{{img.publicCaption}}

Nefertum

Period:
Late Period–Ptolemaic Period
Date:
664–30 B.C.
Geography:
From Egypt
Medium:
Cupreous metal
Dimensions:
H. 9.7 cm (3 13/16 in.); W. 2 cm (13/16 in.); D. 3.5 cm (1 3/8 in.)
Credit Line:
Gift of Joseph W. Drexel, 1889
Accession Number:
89.2.519
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 triple-strap 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, as here, while others hold a sickle-shaped object, probably an ostrich feather fan.
Donated by Joseph W. Drexel, Philadelphia, 1889.

Gillett, Charles R. Rev. 1898. Catalogue of the Egyptian Antiquities in Halls 3 and 4, Metropolitan Museum of Art Handbook, 4. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 143.

Related Objects

Statue of a goddess, probably Nehemetaui or Nebethetepet

Date: 550–300 B.C. Medium: cupreous metal Accession: 26.7.845 On view in:Gallery 134

Ritual Figure

Date: 380–246 B.C. Medium: Wood, formerly clad with lead sheet Accession: 2003.154 On view in:Gallery 128

Statuette of Amun

Date: ca. 945–712 B.C. Medium: Gold Accession: 26.7.1412 On view in:Gallery 125

Cat Statuette intended to contain a mummified cat

Date: 332–30 B.C. Medium: Leaded bronze Accession: 56.16.1 On view in:Gallery 134

Bes-image of the god Hor-Asha-Khet

Date: 4th–2nd century B.C. Medium: Bronze; gold, electrum, auriferous-silver, copper and copper-alloy inlays Accession: 29.2.3 On view in:Gallery 134