- Museum number
Bronze figure of the king wearing a nemes-headdress, kneeling and offering to the Apis bull; Hieroglyphic text naming Peftjauemawyhor.
The king is also wearing a shendyt kilt and a broad collar, and holds his hands outstretched, palms flat and facing inwards. He most likely held something originally. The Apis Bull, on a separate platform, is depicted striding forwards, its left foreleg leading. The animal has a wide muzzle with upwards angled snout and the neck is thick and bulges upwards. The canthi (corners of the eyes) are deep and extended. The hooves and dewclaws are clearly delineated. Inscribed in finely engraved detail are a collar around its neck, a vulture with wings outstretched over its shoulders, and a fringed blanket decorated with stars over its back. The owner’s name is lightly inscribed in hieroglyphs around the base. The horns and sun disk have been broken off.
Height: 15.50 centimetres
Length: 28 centimetres
Weight: 2.19 kilograms (Weight combined. 1.64 kg bull and 0.55kg king)
Depth: 9 centimetres
- Curator's comments
PM VIII, pp. 184 (King); 1120 (Apis-Bull).
The bull stands on a plinth, while the figure of the king does not, so the two figures were not necessarily originally related. Bronze figures of deities could stand alone or be part of a group composition.
The Apis bull was sacred to the god Ptah of Memphis. Only one Apis bull existed at a time, unlike other sacred animals, such as the ibises of Thoth and the cats of Bastet. Each time an Apis bull died the priests searched the country for its successor, which they identified by the bull's particular markings. The search for a new Apis bull is described by the Greek historian Herodotus (about 485-425 BC), who visited Egypt in the mid-fifth century BC.
The Apis was regarded as a representative of Ptah on earth. The bull was kept in splendid accommodation, its every action watched in case it was a message from the god. The bull was used as an intermediary in oracular consultations (foretelling the future); questions were put to it, and its movements interpreted. When it died, the bull was mummified and placed in a sarcophagus. This huge coffin was laid alongside those of the bull's predecessors, in a series of galleries known as the Serapeum at Memphis. According to Herodotus, anyone who harmed the Apis bull would suffer severe consequences. The Persian conqueror Cambyses scorned the gods of Egypt and wounded the Apis bull, causing its death. He was later injured in the same way, just as he was about to reach the high point of his career.
For other examples of similar bronze bulls, see G. Roeder, ‘Ägyptische Bronzefiguren’ (1956), pls. 47-8.
T.G.H. James and W.V. Davies, Egyptian sculpture (London, The British Museum Press, 1983);
S. Quirke and A.J. Spencer, The British Museum book of ancient Egypt (London, The British Museum Press, 1992), p. 90, fig. 70.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2011 Jul–Sept, Newcastle, Great North Museum, Pharaoh: King of Egypt
2012 Oct–Jan, Dorchester, Dorset County Museum, Pharaoh: King of Egypt
2012 Feb–June, Leeds City Museum, Pharaoh: King of Egypt
2012 Jul-Oct, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Pharaoh: King of Egypt
2012 Nov– Feb 2013, Glasgow, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Pharaoh: King of Egypt
2013 Mar–Aug, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, Pharaoh: King of Egypt
2013, 25 Oct- 2014, 15 Feb, Wuhan, Hubei Provincial Museum, Pharaoh: King of Egypt
2016 8 Mar-12 Jun, Cleveland, Cleveland Museum of Art, Pharaoh: King of Egypt
2018 7 Jun-16 Sep, Barcelona, La Caixa, Pharaoh: King of Egypt
2018-2019 16 Oct-20 Jan, Madrid, La Caixa, Pharaoh: King of Egypt
2019 19 Feb-25 Aug, Girona, La Caixa, Pharaoh: King of Egypt
2019-2020 24 Sept-12 Jan, Seville, La Caixa, Pharaoh: King of Egypt
2020-2021 11 Feb - 21 Feb, Tarragona, La Caixa, Pharaoh: King of Egypt
2021, 25 Mar - 15 Aug, Santiago de Compostela, Museo Centro de Gaias, Pharaoh King of Egypt
- Acquisition date
- Egypt and Sudan
- BM/Big number
- Registration number