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Artist: Unknown Egyptian Artist Primary
Date: 685-525 BCE
7th century - 6th century BCE
Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.94 x 2.31 in. (16.51 x 2.38 x 5.87 cm)
Object Type: Figurine
Creation Place: Middle East, Egypt
Medium and Support: Bronze
Credit Line: Lent by the Yale University Art Gallery, Gift of David Dows, Ph.B. 1908 (1945.167).
Accession Number: L2020.05.09
On View: Bellarmine Hall Galleries

This statue depicts the ancient Egyptian god Nefert-tem, the mythological child of the deities Sekhmet and Ptah. Nefer-tem was associated with lotus blossoms, the sunrise, and rebirth.
This statuette was created roughly between the years 685-525 BCE, during the Saite Period. During this period, the Egyptians were able to successfully gain back control over their country from the Assyrians. In it, Nefer-tem's face appears young and serene. He is identified by the crown on the top of his head. The scale of the crown itself is large in proportion to the figure and depicts a flowering lotus held up by two horns.

The material of the statuette is bronze, a substance fairly abundant within the Middle East during the Late Period. Bronze was not limited to only elite purchase, as it was produced from an inexpensive and abundantly available resource. The Egyptians executed many of their pieces using copper alloys, including bronze. However, statues of gods were typically produced from gold and silver, materials identified by myth as their skin and bones.

Although it is not specified what type of ritual this statuette was used for, inferences from similar figurines produced during the Late Period (664-332 B.C.E.) can provide contextual clues to what an object this size and stature would typically be involved with. This statuette was most likely not created for pure aesthetic or viewing purposes, but built with the functional purpose of a ritual object. The small scale of the figure also supports the theory of the figure's use as a ritual object as, the statuette is portable, light-weight and can be easily handled by a single person.

Julianna Tabback '23

In this portrait Nefertum is wearing a nemes headdress which would have been worn by kings in ancient Egypt. He is facing the viewer and is positioned with one foot in front of the other in mid-step.
He is shown wearing a kilt indicating that he is a male, as well as the curved false beard indicating his status as a god.

According to ancient Egyptian mythology, Nefer-tem came to existence from a blue lotus bud that came from the waters of Nun in the beginning of time. Each day Nefer-tem experiences a repeating cycle starting with being born at sunset, becoming the god Atum during the daytime and dying at sunset to be reborn again the next day. The lotus flowers Nefer-tem originated from contained real-world medicinal properties,and Nefer-tem was described bringing lotus flowers for the god Ra to help with his pain. Ancient Egyptians would also carry small statuettes of of the good as protective amulets.

Clarissa Rotonto '22


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Late Period
Refers to the period in Egypt from about 664 to 332 BCE comprising the Twenty-sixth Dynasty through the Thirty-first Dynasty; some sources begin with the Twenty-fifth Dynasty about 750 BCE. The period is the last during which Egypt functioned as an independent political entity and its culture was increasingly under pressure from major civilizations of the Eastern Mediterranean and Near East. Works of art particularly sculpture are characterized by a uniform idealized style known as the Saite style, developed in the Tewnty-sixth Dynasty which was dominant throughout the Late period.
Three-dimensional works that represent humans, animals, or mythical beasts at less than half life-size. While the term may be used interchangeably with "statuette" in certain situations, it differs in that a statuette is always free-standing while a figurine may be part of a larger work, such as a decorative detail on a candelabra or mirror.
devotional images
Images, either two-dimensional pictures or three-dimensional, used in private piety or other religious purposes in a place of worship or home, intended as recipients of prayer or aids to meditation; distinct from images that serve the liturgy or are primarily didactic.
public domain
Land owned and controlled by the state or federal government. Also, the status of publications, products, and processes that are not protected under patent or copyright.
Belief systems that encompass various personal and institutional relationships between human beings and what they regard as holy, sacred, or divine, usually but not always a deity, or a spiritual or occult force. Participation in a religion is typically manifested in obedience, reverence, and worship, often including group activities and alliance with a leader. Elements of a religion or similar belief system include doctrine, ritual, defined parameters of morality, and a code of living, often seen as a means of achieving spiritual or material improvement.
Representations of real individuals that are intended to capture a known or supposed likeness, usually including the face of the person. For representations intended to be anonymous, or of fictional or mythological characters, see "figures (representations)."

Portfolio List

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