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Work Statue of Osiris

Department of Egyptian Antiquities: Religious and funerary beliefs

Le dieu Osiris

© Musée du Louvre/G. Poncet

Egyptian Antiquities
Religious and funerary beliefs

Varry Sylvie

This stuccoed wooden statue depicts the famous god Osiris, lord of the dead, who was assassinated by his brother Seth and resurrected by his sister and wife, Isis. The god is portrayed in his usual iconographic pose: standing, his body wrapped in a mummy-shaped sheath, wearing the atef crown and holding the crook and flail scepters, which could also be carried by pharaohs.

The god

This statue depicts the extremely popular god Osiris. It is made of stuccoed wood and is still partially gilded, with additional cuprous metal objects such as details on the crown and the scepters. The eyes are inlaid with alabaster and glass.
The god is represented in his usual pose: standing, his body wrapped in a shroud, arms crossed on his chest, holding the crook and the flail. He wears a curved, braided beard as well as the atef crown consisting of a miter, two ostrich feathers, two ram's horns and two uraei.

The myth

Osiris was the son of Geb, the god of the earth, and Nut, goddess of the sky. He married his sister Isis and succeeded his father as the ruler of Egypt.
A later legend recorded by the Greek author Plutarch relates the god's murder, perpetuated by his brother Seth, who was jealous of his success. Egyptian texts merely allude to this event, as readers who would have known the details.
Seth made a lavishly decorated box to the size of his brother; during a banquet, he promised to give it to the guest who fit perfectly inside it.
When Osiris stretched out in the box, Seth accomplices closed and sealed the box, and then threw it in the Nile.
After a long search, Isis found her husband's coffin. Unfortunately, Seth discovered the body and chopped it into pieces, which he then scattered throughout Egypt. With the help of Nephthys, Isis refashioned the body and, with Anubis, created the first mummy. She then used her magical powers to conceive a son, Horus, with her deceased spouse. Thus resuscitated and assured of an heir, Osiris could become the king of the dead.

Lord of the afterlife

Osiris was a complex god, linked to the flooding of the Nile, the moon and the royalty; his immense popularity is due to his funerary role.
Originally, he was probably a god of fertility and agriculture. As his cult expanded in the Old Kingdom, Osiris was assimilated with the gods of the underground and became important in funerary rituals.
His myth promised life after death for every individual who received the proper rites. Each deceased became an Osiris in his or her own right and attained eternal life - although the oldest beliefs promised only a vague, collective future linked to the dead king.

Technical description

  • Le dieu Osiris

    époque ptolémaïque, 332 - 30 avant J.-C.

  • bois enduit, entoilé et autrefois peint, bronze

    H. : 1,68 m. ; L. : 0,36 m. ; Pr. : 0,38 m.

  • E 115

  • Egyptian Antiquities

    Sully wing
    Ground floor
    Tomb of Osiris
    Room 323
    Vitrine 12

Practical information

In line with the measures taken by the government to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Musée du Louvre and Musée National Eugène Delacroix are closed up until Tuesday December 15, 2020.
All those who have purchased a ticket for this period will automatically receive a refund—no action is required.
Thank you for your understanding.

The Tuileries and Carrousel gardens remain open.