Egyptian Stone bust of a Goddess (Maat?)
Period: New Kingdom, XIX Dynasty, circa 1280 B.C.
Material: Black serpentine
Dimensions: Height: 10 cm, Widht: 7.2 cm, Diameter: 4.6 cm
Ex British Private collection, collected in 1980 or before; Ex American Private Collection, collected in the 1990’s.
The bust and the head of the figure are very well preserved, showing a beautiful patina with traces of gilding.
A very finely carved bust depicting the goddess wearing a striated tripartite wig bound by a fillet and with horizontal bands at the bottom of each lappet, a deep broad collar, beaded arm bands and a corselet whose straps leave her nipples free; a back pillar extends to just below the fillet; a hole at the top rear of the head seved to fix a feather.
Although most of the above features might be worn by other Egyptian goddesses, the fillet is specific to Maat and therefore she can be identified with certainty. An ostrich plume, perhaps worked in gold, would have been inserted into the hole in the top of her head. This symbol stands for the goddess when her name was written in hieroglyphs and represented the weight of truth placed on the scale at the moment of entering the afterlife. Although she had other aspects, she was most often called the ‘Goddess of Truth’. Thus the ancient Egyptian concept of Maat was triumph of order over chaos that formed the basis for human life and therefore for the world.
Stylistically this representation of the Maat is datable to the beginning of the XIXth Dynasty. A life-sized pair-statue in the Cairo Museum (Cairo CG 39211), representing the Goddess Mut with the God Amun and bearing the cartouches of King Sety I, is so similar that the date of Maat’s representation can probably be narrowed to this king’s reign. Another fine stylistic parallel in the Louvre (Paris, Louvre N 3566), again representing the Mut and Amun, is similar in size to this Maat. Presumably these small statues were part of a series commissioned by the king to represent all of Egypt’s most important gods.
ASSMANN J., Maât. L’Egypte pharaonique et l’idée de justice sociale, Paris, 1989.
BARBOTIN C., Les statues égyptiennes du Nouvel Empire (Musée du Louvre), Paris, 2006, pp. 138-141, n. 79
DARESSY G., Statues de divinités (Catalogue Général des Antiquités Egyptiennes du Musée du Caire), Le Caire, 1906, p. 226, n.38905 (Maât debout) p. 300, pl. LVI, n. 39211.