Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Child god

Late Period–Ptolemaic Period
664–30 B.C.
From Egypt
Cupreous metal, precious metal inlay
H. 13.6 cm (5 3/8 in.); W. 5.2 cm (2 1/16 in.); D. 6.2 cm (2 7/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Bequest of Mary Anna Palmer Draper, 1915
Accession Number:
Not on view
The figure represents a child god in a seated/reclining position, wearing a cap and uraeus. The child god is distinguished from adult gods by a range of iconographic clues: his nudity, the finger raised to the mouth (a child-like gesture), and the thick sidelock on the right side of his head. Small details show the fine workmanship of the piece and hint at its original, even greater, beauty: the cap crown is stippled, either for decoration or the addition of gilding; the eyes are gilded, which lends some contrast and color to the face; the broad collar is articulated on the front and back with a counterpoise; and an amulet hangs beneath the broad collar on the chest. The amulet is another attribute common to child gods but not adult gods. Meanwhile, his slightly plump, well-fed belly hints at his ability to bring about prosperity and abundance.
Child gods grew in popularity and cult from the Third Intermediate Period onwards, rivaling even the most powerful and ancient gods, especially as temple offerings. The best known is Horus the Child (Harpokrates), who was the son of Isis and Osiris, but many others existed, including Khonsu the Child, Ihy, and Harsiese, among others. Thus it is difficult to assign a precise identity to this statuette without an associated inscription.
Bequeathed to the Museum by Mary Anna Palmer Draper, 1915.

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