Lot 634: Egyptian Black Basalt Face
December 7, 2016
Harwich, United KingdomLive Auction
Description: Third Intermediate Period, 21st-23rd Dynasty, 1075-732 BC. A black basalt head from a composite statue of a male, possibly the god Amun, showing eyebrows and cosmetic lines in raised relief, slightly flaring nose and wide mouth with fleshy lips; smooth polish to the surface; mounted on a custom-made stand. Cf. Sotheby's, Bond Street, London, sale 93672, 9 December 1993, lot 279. Accompanied by an Art Loss Register certificate. 634 grams total, 10cm including stand (4"). Property of a North American gentleman; previously in the Hartmann collection, Austria, before 1980. Amun, whose name means 'the hidden one', was an ancient deity that was possibly connected to the creation of the primordial universe. He was the chief deity of the city of Thebes in Southern Egypt which eventually became the capital during the New Kingdom. With the rise of the city as the capital and the presence of the royal family Amun, along with his wife Mut, and son Khonsu, became the chief deity of Egypt and a vast and elaborate temple complex was constructed to him, being added to by each successive Pharaoh. Amun was commonly depicted as a male wearing a kilt, long false beard and a crown composed of two tall feathers. He could also take on the form of a ram, especially in his role as a primordial creator god. It is during this period that the worship of Amun became more complex with him being identified with the fertility god Min, and the sun god Ra. Each Pharaoh was considered to be the son of Amun, thus legitimizing his rule, but also acting as a symbolic reminder that the Pharaoh represented the stability and order brought to the world through the gods. Amun enjoyed royal patronage and worship for well over a thousand years until his popularity waned in the tenth century BC, due in part to the economic collapse of the country that resulted in the lack of resources to maintain the vast temples and the costly rituals. Amun continued to be worshipped into later periods, and was identified by the Greeks with Zeus, and Jupiter by the Romans, thus still upholding his position as king of the gods. He maintained an important shrine at the oasis town of Siwah where he was worshipped in the form of a large stone, possibly a meteorite, that was famous for its oracles. The shrine was visited by Alexander the Great after he liberated Egypt from the rule of the Persians. It is here that Alexander was declared to be the son of Amun and which led him to be depicted with ram's horns on his coin portraits.
Condition Report: Very fine condition.