Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Cult Image of the God Ptah

Third Intermediate Period–early Dynasty 26
ca. 945–600 B.C.
From Egypt
Lapis lazuli
Height of figure 5.2 cm (2 1/16 in); w. 1.8 cm (11/16 in); d. 1.1 cm (7/16 in.); Height of dais 0.4 cm (3/16 in); w 1.0 cm (3/8 in); d 1.6 cm (5/8 in)
Credit Line:
Anne and John V. Hansen Egyptian Purchase Fund, 2007
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 127
This statuette depicts Ptah, the chief god of Egypt's capital city Memphis, who is easy to identify by his tight-fitting cap and enveloping shroud. Other iconographic details, such as the royal beard, the large and detailed broad collar, the scepter of merged "was" and "djed" signs, and a platform representing the hieroglyph for universal order, as well as the brilliant blue stone, communicate four important epithets: Lord of Lower Egypt, Master Craftsman, Lord of Truth, and Lord of the Sky.
The superior carving of the god's face, scepter, and jewelry is astonishing for a piece of such diminutive size and hard stone. Its style and quality suggests the sculpture was made in a royal workshop and most likely intended for use as a votive piece in Ptah's large temple at Memphis or in a small shrine dedicated to the god elsewhere in Egypt.

Link to 82nd & Fifth
In 1979, Weill Goudchaux of London acquired the piece from the Comtesse Martine de Béhague Collection where it had resided since the early twentieth century when it was published and illustrated in W. Froehner's "Collection de la Comtesse R. de Béarn, I", Paris, 1905.Purchased by the Museum from Charles Ede Ltd., London, 2007. Published in the MMA Bulletin, Fall 2007.

Hill, Marsha and Deborah Schorsch 2016. "Ptah's Profile." In Another Mouthful of Dust. Egyptological Studies in Honour of Geoffrey Thorndike Martin, 246, p. 269.

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