An Egyptian bronze Oxyrhynchus Fish, Late Period, ca. 664 - 332 BCE
Regular price$8,500 USD
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The distinctive appearance of this cast bronze fish, wearing a crown of cow horns and the sun disk, easily identifies it as the oxyrhynchus, a common African variety whose name means "pointed nose." The oxyrhynchus is closely associated with the god Osiris, playing an integral role in the events leading up to the resurrection of the god. In the most complete account of the Osiris myth, recorded by the Greek Historian Plutarch in the first to second centuries AD, Osiris was dismembered by his vengeful brother, Seth. After Seth scattered the body parts throughout Egypt, Osiris's phallus was eaten by the oxyrhynchus. Despite its participation in the downfall of Osiris, the fish was considered sacred. The Roman author Aelian, writing in the second to third centuries AD, attested that fishermen took great pains to remove the oxyrhynchus from their nets, though tomb representations do show the fish being caught for food.
The oxyrhynchus was also associated with the goddess Hathor and was frequently portrayed wearing her characteristic crown, as in this instance. During the Late period, there was a proliferation of small bronze images of deities presented as votive offerings in temples. The image often included a representation of the donor, as here, as additional proof of devotion. This fish was particularly sacred in the town of the same name, Oxyrhynchus (modern el-Behnasa), as well as at el-Omari, the site of a necropolis for mummified fish. It is possible that this figure was dedicated to such a cult center.
Condition: Partial loss of the horned sun disk headdress, small loss to the lower reattached back fin but otherwise intact, with excellent incised details to the body and dorsal fin. A fine example.
Dimensions: Length: 6.3 inches (16 cm)
Provenance: Private French collection of Dr. FH, acquired in the 1970s.
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