Egyptian Bronze Neith

SKU: MS.0045

Origin: Egypt
Circa: Late Dynastic Period, c. 664 to 525 BC
Dimensions: 5.75" Height x 1" Width x 1.75" Depth (14.6cms x 2.5cms x 4.5cms)
Medium: Bronze

Neith was considered the most important Goddess and quite possibly the most important diety of Lower Egypt.  As such, one of her most pervasive attributes was the Red Crown of Lower Egypt, which we can see here, worn gracefully atop her head. The body is slender yet elegant, discreetly revealed underneath a close-fitting dress, as she strides forward with her left leg advanced atop an integral plinth.  Both arms are lowered, and her left fist would have been clenched and pierced to hold her staff (now missing).  The face retains an air of serene and dignified nobility with superb symmetry, a prominent brow, elongated eye lines and a pointed nose.

with Sumer Gallery of Ancient Art Inc., New York, 1980. Private collection, New York.

Overall with dark browny green patination, with waxed surface, some very minor roughness including to the proper left buttock, proper left arm missing below elbow. The underside of the integral base with green surface oxidation.

Neith was one of the most ancient deities known from Egypt. There is ample evidence that she was one of the most important deities of the prehistoric and Early Dynastic periods and, impressively, her veneration persisted to the very end of the phaoronic age. Her character was complex, evolving over the centuries to take on traits of a warrior, mother, creator, and funerary Goddess amongst others.

Most noteworthy in regards to the current example, Neith was the patron goddess of Sais and of the 26th Dynasty pharaohs. For them she expressed elements of both a war goddess, and also a great creator deity. As such, the Greeks identified her with Athena, while even later in Egyptian history she was fused with Isis and worshipped as the "divine mother" of Horus. Cupreous statuary of the goddess proliferated during Dynasty 26, notably in the western (Libyan) part of the Delta. The current figure is a fine example of the facial style of mid Dynasty 26, and of the Saite female figural style with its heavy bosom and long slim hips.

For other striding bronze figures of Neith, see George Steindorff, Catalogue of the Egyptian Sculpture in the Walters Art Gallery, 1946, pls. LXXXVI-LXXXVII, nos. 540-547.

Jansen-Winkeln, Karl 2014. Inschriften der Spätzeit, Teil IV: Die 26. Dynastie, 2 vols.. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, p. 930.

Hill, Marsha 2019. "Small divine statuettes: outfitting religion." In Statues in Context: Production, Meaning and (Re)uses, edited by Aurélia Masson. Leuven.


Late Dynastic

Egyptian Bronze Neith

Late Dynastic

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