Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Child god in nemes and hemhem crown

Late Period–Ptolemaic Period
664–30 B.C.
From Egypt
Cupreous metal
H. 22 cm (8 11/16 in.); W. 10.6 cm (4 3/16 in.); D. 7.2 cm (2 13/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1964
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 134
The figure represents a child god in a seated/reclining position, wearing the hemhem crown with the nemes. The hemhem crown was cast separately from the child god, and was inserted and secured at the top of the head. The child god is usually 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 attached on the right side of his nemes. Here the figure’s hands are both held at the sides, but his nudity and sidelock suffice to identify him as a child god. Child gods are commonly linked with royalty and this god’s hemhem is an elaborate royal crown with solar associations, here emphasized not just by the sun disks at the top of the crown, but also by incised sun disks at the base of each hem element. Meanwhile, the child god’s plump, well-fed belly showcases 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.
Purchased from Maximillian Lowy, Collector's Corner, New York, 1964.

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