Egyptian Alabaster Canopic Jar with the name Horiraâ

Egyptian · Late Period, Dynasty 26, ca. 664-525 B.C.




H: 41.0 cm (16.1 in)





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This vessel was made from a beautiful block of alabaster, which slightly wavy, horizontal veins produce a natural decorative effect that the sculptor has perfectly exploited. On the front, there is a long inscription in six vertical columns that includes the name of Horiraâ. The body of the vase is simple and elegant, domed, turned perfectly shaped, with a flat bottom and rounded shoulder, the surface is smooth and highly polished. The lid of the jar reproduces the head of a baboon.

This specific container is called a canopic jar (the name derives from Canopus, a town situated near Alexandria). According to Egyptian beliefs, mummification was an act that is essential to meeting the physical and spiritual self in the beyond: canopic jars are a type of funeral urn that contained viscera, removed from the body during the embalming process. The Sons of Horus, four in number, are considered its protective gods, also differentiated by the shape of their head: a dog (Duamutef attendant to the conservation of the stomach), a hawk (Qebehsenuef, intestines), a man (Aamset, liver) and a baboon (Hapi, lungs). Associated with the four protective goddesses (Isis, Nephthys, Neith and Selkis), their names are usually inscribed on the body of the vase.


Surface weathered, abraded in places; a few chips.


Ex- French private collection, prior to 1978.


The San Francisco Fall Show, Fort Mason, San Francisco California, 12-16 October 2022, no. 3


ARNOLD D., An Egyptian Bestiary, New York, 1995, p. 60, nos. 82-83.
BOTTI G. – ROMANELLI P., Le sculture del Museo Gregoriano egizio, Città del Vaticano, 1961, pl. 45-49.
PAGE-GASSER M., WIESE A.B., Egypte, Moments d’éternité, Art égyptien dans les collections privées, Suisse, Basel, Geneva, Mainz on Rhine, 1997, pp. 249-250, no. 164.
WILKINSON R.H., The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, London, 2003, pp. 88-89.