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HOME : Egyptian Antiquities : Archive : 26th Dynasty Stone Naophorous Sculpture Featuring Osiris
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26th Dynasty Stone Naophorous Sculpture Featuring Osiris - X.0386
Origin: Egypt
Circa: 664 BC to 525 BC
Dimensions: 9.5" (24.1cm) high
Collection: Egyptian
Medium: Stone

Additional Information: SOLD

Location: Great Britain
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The 26th Dynasty, also known as the Saite Period, is traditionally placed by scholars at the end of the Third Intermediate Period or at the beginning of the Late Dynastic Period. In either case, the Saite Period rose from the ashes of a decentralized Egyptian state that had been ravaged by foreign occupation. Supported by the assistance of a powerful family centered in the Delta town of Sais, the Assyrians finally drove the Nubians out of Egypt. At the close of this campaign, Ashurbanipal’s kingdom was at the height of its power; however, due to civil strife back east, he was forced to withdraw his forces from Egypt. Psamtik I, a member of the family from Sais, seized this opportunity to assert his authority over the entire Nile Valley and found his own dynasty, the 26th of Egyptian history. Known as the Saite Period due to the importance of the capital city Sais, the 26th Dynasty, like many before it, sought to emulate the artistic styles of past pharaoh in order to bolster their own claims to power and legitimize their authority.

Yet despite that artist sought to replicate models of the past, Egyptian art of this era was infused with a heightened sense of naturalism. This fact is likely due to the influx of Greek culture. The Saite rulers recognized that Egypt had fallen behind the rest of the Mediterranean world in terms of military technology. Thus, they were forced to rely upon foreign mercenaries, many of whom were Greek. With ties between these two cultures firmly established during the 7th Century B.C., commercial trading quickly blossomed. Special entrepots for foreign traders were established, including the famed center of Naucratis, a Delta town in which Greek merchants were permitted access. During the Saite Period, two great powers of the Mediterranean world became intimately linked, commercially and culturally. As the exchange of ideas flowed across the sea, the Greeks began to experiment on a monumental scale while the Egyptians began to approach art with an enhanced sense of realism.

This type of figure is known as “naophorous,” or shrine bearer. This term comes from the Greek words naos, meaning “shrine”, and phorein, meaning “to bear.” Naophorous sculptures depict a seated man holding a shrine between his legs with his arms traditionally resting above or holding the sides of the shrine. Inside the shrine, there is always a representation of a deity. A naos shrine is one in which a representation of a deity is kept, especially in temple sanctuaries. This magnificent naophorous sculpture depicted a seated official holding a shrine in which a statue of the god Osiris is visible. Based on the style of the work, as well as the inscription that cover the sides of the shrine, this sculpture has been dated to the end of the 26th Dynasty. The hieroglyphic text contains an invocation to Osiris on the sides of the shrine, titulary elements on the back, and a name, Padihorresnet, which is characteristic of the Saite period. This person is likely to be either the man who commissioned this work, or perhaps one of his relative he sought to honor through this sculpture.
- (X.0386)


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