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Clay figure of Osiris-Canopus: E.268.1932

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Object information

Titles

Clay figure of Osiris-Canopus

Description

Nile silt clay, mould-made in two halves and then joined. There is some damage to the base of the figurine. Inside there are finger-marks where the maker has pushed the clay into a mould and there is an additional strip of clay on the inside right-hand side to reinforce the join. The surface is eroded and there are some cracks as a result of the firing process.

The jar is decorated with relief scenes. The lower registers contain two winged figures. On the front is a winged scarab wearing a sundisk and cow-horns. The beetle is probably a reference to re-birth in the after life and commonly appears on coffins. On the back of the jar is an eagle with the head turned to its right shoulder.

On the front of the jar, on a slightly higher register, are two figures of the child of Osiris and Isis: Harpocrates. The young child is depicted with finger in mouth and the side-lock of youth is just about distinguishable on the figure. Behind Harpocrates is a female figure holding a sceptre. She can probably be identified as Isis. The pectoral contains a figure of a seated deity who also appears to have the finger-to-mouth pose and who may also represent Harpocrates. Above this is a heart-shaped amulet, perhaps representing the heart of Osiris. The head of the figurine is human in form and shows the subject with a striated tripartite nemes headcloth. Unlike earlier representations of male gods there is no uraeus (protective cobra) shown.

Whilst such images may have served a funerary purpose because they are representations of Osiris, god of the afterlife, they certainly seem to have been used in temples and also in houses for personal shrines. It is not known whether they were developed in Egypt or Italy. Statues of priests holding an Osiris Canopus jar appear in both countries at around the same time in the first century AD (the Roman Period).

Measurements and weight

Height: 14.5 cm

Find spot

  • Egypt

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1932) by Whyte, Edward Towry

Dating

Roman
Circa 80 - Circa 200

School or Style

Romano-Egyptian

Materials used in production

Clay

Techniques used in production

Mouldmade

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: E.268.1932
Primary reference Number: 52999
Oldadmincategory: P
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 25 February 2020 Last processed: Sunday 21 March 2021

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Antiquities

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2022) "Clay figure of Osiris-Canopus" Web page available at: https://collection.beta.fitz.ms/id/object/52999 Accessed: 2022-06-28 19:58:47

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{{cite web|url=https://collection.beta.fitz.ms/id/object/52999 |title=Clay figure of Osiris-Canopus |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2022-06-28 19:58:47|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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