Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object
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Nefertum

Period:
Late Period–Ptolemaic Period
Date:
664–30 B.C.
Geography:
From Egypt
Medium:
Cupreous metal
Dimensions:
H. 17.7 cm (6 15/16 in.); W. 2.7 cm (1 1/16 in.); D. 5.7 cm (2 1/4 in.)
Credit Line:
Gift of Darius Ogden Mills, 1904
Accession Number:
04.2.455
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 thick suspension loop at the base of the crown, a common feature on Nefertum statuettes whether large or small. This figure’s short kilt is cut high in the center and the sides curve down and outward, framing the straight center overfold. Some comparable statuettes hold their hands at the side, as here, while others hold a sickle-shaped object, probably an ostrich feather fan.
Collection of Judge Elbert E. Farman, formed when he was U.S. consul general in Egypt 1876–84. Donated to the museum by Darius Ogden Mills, New York, in 1904.

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