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Quartzite figure of a baboon


Height: 68.500 cm

Purchased from the collection of John Barker in 1833

EA 38

Room 4: Egyptian sculpture

    Quartzite figure of a baboon

    From Egypt
    18th Dynasty, around 1350 BC

    'He who cuts off the face of him who cuts off your face'

    Ancient Egyptians might identify the baboon with at least three main deities. The first was the sun-god, as baboons screech at sunrise. Religious papyri often depict baboons adoring the rising sun. The second deity, who this sculpture is normally thought to represent, is Thoth, the ibis-headed god of Hermopolis. Amenhotep III (1390-1352 BC), whose names are incised on the pedestal of this small figure, in fact set up four colossal baboon statues at Hermopolis, the centre of Thoth's cult.

    However, the baboon is also associated with Hapy, one of the four sons of Horus. The inscription on this statue suggests that it might be Hapy who is represented here, as it bears the epithet 'He who cuts off the face of him who cuts off your face', which is usually identified with the guardian Hapy.

    The figure is carved from the brown quartzite of Lower Egypt so favoured by Amenhotep III. It has been suggested that the statue may have come from Amenhotep's tomb, but divine statues in royal burials are more likely to have been made of wood. It seems more likely that this is one of the huge number of statues of deities made for Amenhotep's mortuary temple on the west bank of the Nile.

    A.P. Kozloff and B.M. Bryan, Egypts dazzling sun: Amenhotep (Cleveland Museum of Art, 1992)

    S. Quirke and A.J. Spencer, The British Museum book of anc (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)


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    On display: Room 4: Egyptian sculpture

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