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Work Pendant with the Name of King Osorkon II: the God Osiris's Family

Department of Egyptian Antiquities: The final Pharaonic dynasties and the Ptolemaic period (circa 1069 - 30 BC)

Pendant with the Name of King Osorkon II: the God Osiris's Family

© Musée du Louvre/C. Décamps

Egyptian Antiquities
The final Pharaonic dynasties and the Ptolemaic period (circa 1069 - 30 BC)

Author(s):
Pierrat-Bonnefois Geneviève

This extremely precious solid gold and lapis lazuli item of jewelry - a true masterpiece of antique goldwork - represents the holy triad of the Osiris family. Despite the presence of the god of death, this piece was more a temple treasure than a funerary jewel.

Osiris's Family

The three solid gold figures represent Osiris, surrounded by his son, Horus, and his wife, Isis. Horus and Isis extend their hands toward their father and husband's shoulder in a protective gesture. These gods are recognizable by their attributes: the feathered tiara and shroud for Osiris; the falcon head and double royal crown for Horus; and the horned disk for Isis, in imitation of the goddess Hathor. Osiris is crouching on a pillar of a deep blue lapis lazuli that places him at the same level as his family. The palm leaves on the cornice and the base are fashioned in gold cloisonné inlaid with lapis and red glass. The inlays of Horus and Isis's wigs are missing. Some of the details have been chased; others were added by barely visible welds. The sculptural quality of the figures is comparable to that of the best statues from the same period, for example, Karomama, the Divine Adoratrice, exhibited in the same room (Louvre Museum, N 500).

Inscriptions on the Base

The underside of the gold base has an engraved inscription; six columns remain. It reads, to the left: "The king of Upper and Lower Egypt, the master of the Two Lands, Usermaatre, the chosen of Amun, the son of Ra, the lord of the crowns, Osorkon beloved of Amun"; and opposite, from left to right: "I grant you the years of Atum, like Ra, I grant you encompassing bravery and total victory, I give you countless jubilees; thus speaks Osiris Wennefer."
A plate of gilded silver was added at the feet of Isis during restoration at an unknown date; the end of the text is therefore missing. It may have been the key in pinpointing the actual origin of this crouching Osiris - a rare pose in statues of this god, who also dispenses words that are usually found in the mouths of other major dynastic gods, such as Amun and Ra.

A Temple Jewel

The back of the engraved lapis column reads: "King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Lord of the Two Lands, Usermaatre, the chosen of Amun, son of Ra, Osorkon beloved of Amun." Could this explain the crouching figure? On the same monument, Osorkon II would therefore be both a protégé of Osiris and an embodiment of the god, a status every king achieved after death. Yet the pharaoh is not described as "Osiris-Osorkon" as a deceased sovereign.
On the other hand, the amulet figure cannot be from Osorkon II's tomb, which was found intact by Pierre Montet during excavations of Tanis, as it was sealed under a pile of older excavated earth. Furthermore, the text is not that of a piece of funerary jewelry, as Osiris is here considered to be a god protecting a living king. In the first millennium BC, many cult centers across the country were devoted to this deity. This piece of jewelry seems to be a temple treasure - an attribute that played a considerable religious role. Rings on the back could have been used to hang the object like a breastplate. This extremely valuable piece was probably altered to fulfill a new function, which may explain why the epithets of the god under the base were removed.

Bibliography

Tanis, l'or des pharaons, catalogue d'exposition, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, 1987, pp. 172-173.
Ziegler Christiane, Stierlin Henri, Tanis : trésors des Pharaons, Paris, Seuil, 1987, fig. 107-110.
Ziegler Christiane, Bovot Jean-Luc, Art et archéologie : l'Égypte ancienne, Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, "Manuels de l'École du Louvre", Paris, 2001, pp. 252-253, fig. 152.
Catalogue de l'exposition Von Babylon bis Jerusalem, Mannheim, 1999, p. 61, notice n 76
G. ANDREU, M. H. RUTSCHOWSCAYA, C. ZIEGLER, L'Egypte au Louvre, Hachette, Paris, 1997, p. 178-179, 255, notice n 87

Technical description

  • Pendant with the Name of King Osorkon II: the God Osiris's Family

    Third Intermediate Period, Twenty-Second Dynasty, reign of Osorkon II (874-850 BC)

  • Gold, lapis lazuli and red glass

    H. 9 cm; W. 6.60 cm

  • Purchased 1872

    E 6204

  • Egyptian Antiquities

    Sully wing
    1st floor
    From the year 1000 to the first Persian conquest, c. 1069–404 BC
    Room 29

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