Oxyrhynchus Fish Votive

11008048-1987_001_Apa_ARC.tif

Title

Oxyrhynchus Fish Votive

Date

722-332 BC

Context

Late Period
Egypt
Egyptian

Medium/Dimensions

Bronze, lapis lazuli, glass
4 x 4 13/16 in. (10.2 x 12.2 cm)

Object Number

1987.001

Description

This small statue group depicts a man kneeling before the larger figure of a fish. Resting atop a shrine inlaid with lapis lazuli and red glass, the fish wears a crown of cow horns and the sun disk. The distinctive appearance of the fish easily identifies it as the oxyrhynchus, a common African variety whose name means "pointed nose."

The oxyrhynchus is closely associated with the god Osiris, playing an integral role in the events leading up to the resurrection of the god. In the most complete account of the Osiris myth, recorded by the Greek Historian Plutarch in the first to second centuries AD, Osiris was dismembered by his vengeful brother, Seth. After Seth scattered the body parts throughout Egypt, Osiris's phallus was eaten by the oxyrhychus. Despite its participation in the downfall of Osiris, the fish was considered sacred. The Roman author Aelian, writing in the second to third centuries AD, attested that fisherman took great pains to remove the oxyrhynchus from their nets, though tomb representations do show the fish being caught for food.

The oxyrhynchus was also associated with the goddess Hathor and was frequently portrayed wearing her characteristic crown, as in this instance. During the Late period, there was a proliferation of small bronze images of deities presented as votive offerings in temples. The image often included a representation of the donor, as here, as additional proof of devotion. This fish was particularly sacred in the town of the same name, Oxyrhynchus (modern el-Behnasa), as well as at el-Omari, the site of a necropolis for mummified fish. It is possible that this figure was dedicated at such a cult center.

Credit Line

Gift of the Connoisseurs

Exhibits/Publications

Selected Acquisitions: Asia to America, Emory University Museum of Art and Archaeology, May 8 - August 8, 1987|
Across the Millennia: Antiques from the Emory University Museum of Art and Archaeology, Southern Bell Center, January 6 - February 29, 1988|
MCCM Permanent Collection Gallery, 2001 - Present
Michael C. Carlos Museum Handbook (Atlanta: Michael C. Carlos Museum, 1996), 22.|
Peter Lacovara and Betsy Teasley Trope, The Realm of Osiris (Atlanta: Michael C. Carlos Museum, 2001), 16.|
Nicole K. Leong and Danielle Sass, "A Bronze Oxyrhynchus Fish in the Museum of Ancient Cultures, Macquarie University," The Bulletin of the Australian Centre for Egyptology 25 (2014): 76, figure 5.

Rights

© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Peter Harholdt.
This image is provided by the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University, who retains all rights in it. This image is made available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined by United States law. For all other uses, please contact the Michael C. Carlos Museum Office of Collections Services at +1(404) 727-4282 or mccm.collections.services@emory.edu. Users must cite the author and source of the image as they would material from any printed work, but not in any way that implies endorsement of the user or the user's use of the image. Users may not remove any copyright, trademark, or other proprietary notices, including without limitation attribution information, credits, and copyright notices that have been placed on or near the image by the Museum. The Museum assumes no responsibility for royalties or fees claimed by the artist or third parties. The User agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Emory University, its Michael C. Carlos Museum, its agents, employees, faculty members, students and trustees from and against any and all claims, losses, actions, damages, expenses, and all other liabilities, including but not limited to attorney’s fees, directly or indirectly arising out of or resulting from its use of photographic images for which permission is granted hereunder.

On View

Yes

Citation

“Oxyrhynchus Fish Votive,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed April 19, 2018, http://carlos.digitalscholarship.emory.edu/items/show/8043.

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