Harpokrates, Cupreous metal, precious metal inlay


Third Intermediate Period–Late Period
7th–4th century B.C.
From Egypt
Cupreous metal, precious metal inlay
H. 15.5 cm (6 1/8 in.); W. 3 cm (1 3/16 in.); D. 7 cm (2 3/4 in.)
H. (with tang): 17.4 cm (6 7/8 in.)
Credit Line:
Gift of David Dows, 1945
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 134
The figure represents a child god in a striding/standing position, wearing the double crown, which alludes to his royal status. 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 sidelock on the right side of his head. The sidelock was separately cast and mechanically attached using a small pin, which is still visible near the head. Silver inlay, meanwhile, highlights his eyes and the amulet on his chest. The amulet is suspended on a string that knots at the back of the neck, and it is a common attribute for child gods.

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. Because of their profusion and many local forms, generally it is very difficult to assign precise identities to child gods, but here the double crown and an inscription on the base identify the god as Harpokrates (Horus the Child), who was the son of Osiris and Isis. A small protrusion at the front of the white crown shows where the front spiral broke off of the crown. This royal crown symbolizes the union of Lower and Upper Egypt, and highlights Horus’ role as the legitimate ruler of the entire land and his direct association with the king. The inscription names the donor as Horwedja.
Mrs. Jane S. Dows Collection; donated to the museum by David Dows, her son, 1945