on the Object
solid bronze statuette of the Egyptian god Ptah is a masterpiece
of miniature sculpture and the finest Egyptian bronze in the Ashmolean’s
collection. It probably dates from the 26th Dynasty (664-525 BC).
How it was made: The statuette would have been made in a mould,
formed by the ‘lost wax’ process, and cast upside down. A vertical
channel would have been left at the mouth of the mould into which
molten metal would have been poured. When casting was complete, the
channel would form a spike under the figure’s feet which would allow
it to be fixed onto a base. The forked was-sceptre, a symbol of power
bearing the head of the mythical Seth animal, was made in three pieces
and then slipped into his hands.
Craftsmanship: The quality of workmanship suggests that this
object was produced by a master craftsman. Especially rare and interesting
are the areas which have been stained black to contrast with the body
colour - such as the facial features, cap, beard, jewellery and the
objects he holds. This effect is heightened by the exquisite gold
and silver details which are are still visible in the eyes, bracelets
and bead collar.
belief: Small bronze figures of divine beings appeared most notably
from the 26th Dynasty (664-525 BC) to the Roman Imperial period. They
were used by individuals for private dedication or contemplation,
either within a temple or a personal shrine. Before this time, major
gods of Egypt were remote beings to be approached only through mediation
of the Pharaoh.