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Ibis Coffin

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

Animal mummies were routinely placed in some type of container once the animal had been wrapped in linen. The more ordinary containers were specially designed or reused pottery jars. Such objects have been found by the tens of thousands in so-called animal cemeteries at a number of sites in Egypt.

At times elaborate coffins were crafted to hold the animal mummies. Just as human coffins were anthropoid, 50 animal coffins took the form of the animal contained. The ibis mummy held by this coffin was placed within through the detachable lid on the back. The gilding of the body and the exquisite detailing of the head, legs, and feet make this example one of the finest of its kind.

MEDIUM Wood, silver, gold, and rock crystal, animal remains, linen
  • Possible Place Collected: Tuna el-Gebel, Egypt
  • DATES 305-30 B.C.E.
    PERIOD Ptolemaic Period with later additions
    DIMENSIONS 16 3/4 x 8 x 22 in. (42.5 x 20.3 x 55.9 cm)  (show scale)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 49.48
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Ibis Coffin, 305-30 B.C.E. Wood, silver, gold, and rock crystal, animal remains, linen, 16 3/4 x 8 x 22 in. (42.5 x 20.3 x 55.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 49.48. Creative Commons-BY
    IMAGE x-ray, detail, CONS.49.48_xrs_detail03.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Standing figure of an ibis serving as container for mummified ibis. Wooden body, entire surface gilded. Conventionalized tail indicated by black paint over the gilt. Top of body cut for cover which runs entire length of body. Head and feet cast (solid?) in silver. Eyes of crystal outlined in gold. Incised necklace at base of neck. Mounted on oblong wooden base, apparently original, of rough work. Mummified ibis within body. Condition: Intact. Minor chips along edges of cover. One section on front of body where gesso base has lifted and cracked. Gilt is covered with resin (?) which may be remains of a varnish.
    RECORD COMPLETENESS Best (91%)
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