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HOME : Classical Antiquities : Classical Masterpieces : Bronze Sculpture of a Bull
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Bronze Sculpture of a Bull - FZ.136
Origin: Alexandria, Egypt
Circa: 200 BC to 200 AD
Dimensions: 4" (10.2cm) high x 5" (12.7cm) wide
Catalogue: V1
Collection: Classical
Medium: Bronze

Location: UAE
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In the ancient world Alexandria was a cosmopolitan jewel—a center of learning and artistry that attracted the Mediterranean’s greatest intellectuals. Always on the cutting edge of philosophy and religion, Egyptian mystery cults like that of Osiris spread across the Mediterranean where Hellenic peoples assimilated these foreign rites into their deistic traditions. In the Egyptian capital of Memphis, the city’s great temple contained an enclosure of the Apis bull, a divine creature regarded as the herald of the god Ptah—the principal deity of Memphis. As a manifestation of Ptah, the Apis bull was considered to be a symbolic extension of the Pharaoh and incarnating the very qualities of kingship. The cult of Apis is as old as Egyptian civilization itself, emerging as a fertility god during the Old Kingdom more than two thousand years before the Caesars ruled the western world. During the Ptolemaic period following the 4th century conquests of Alexander the Great, the Apis bull was transformed into the cult of Serapis, an anthropomorphic god that integrated Egyptian religion with the Hellenic traditions of the Ptolemys. This exceptional bronze bull is a testament to the wonderfully peculiar mysteries of Egyptian religion. The Romans despised the Egyptians for their bestial gods, but looking at this masterful creation with its exquisite proportions and realistic detail, one can appreciate the Egyptian’s gentle reverence for the divine animals. The bull’s body lines flow gracefully across the animal’s hulking chest, along its widened flanks, and against a rippling dewlap. The bull’s proud phallus is an expression of virility; with his head turned in subtle and casual affectation this alpha male realizes his power, he knows he is unassailable. The facial detail is also quite remarkable with the mouth and nostrils clearly delineated, ears lowered and horns prominent. However, most striking of all are the bull’s beautiful eyes, expressing a mixture of gentleness and confidence, depicted here with such skill and attention. The rich reddish-brown color blended with the natural patina, brings to life this amazing animal so important in the cults of Egypt. - (FZ.136)


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