Amulet in the Form of a Ba as Human-Headed Bird
Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art
On View: 19th Dynasty to Roman Period, Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Gallery, 3rd Floor
Ba is the Egyptian concept closest to what is meant by the English word "soul." Its composite human-and-bird form symbolizes its ability to travel to different realms. This extremely fine amulet may date to the Ptolemaic Period, but various types of gold amulets inlaid with colored stones are known from burials of Dynasties XXVI through XXX (orca 664–342 B.C.)
Gold, lapis lazuli, turquoise and steatite
XXVI Dynasty or later
Ptolemaic Period (perhaps)
1 1/4 x 2 11/16 x 3/8 in. (3.1 x 6.8 x 0.9 cm) (show scale)
Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
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Amulet in the Form of a Ba as Human-Headed Bird, 305-30 B.C.E. Gold, lapis lazuli, turquoise and steatite, 1 1/4 x 2 11/16 x 3/8 in. (3.1 x 6.8 x 0.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.804E. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 37.804E.jpg)
overall, 37.804E.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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Gold amulet with a cloissone inlay of lapis lazuli, turquoise, and steatite representing a soul in the form of a human-headed bird. Viewed from below the piece displays a human head and bird’s body modelled in the round in gold. This body is attached to outstretched wings made of a sheet of gold. Attached to each wing is an eyelet made of a strip of gold. The lower part of the underside of the tail has an inlay pattern representing five feathers (lapis-turquoise-steatite-turquoise-lapis). Seen from above the sheet of gold is inlayed to represent a feather pattern which is broken up into areas of dark and light blue (lapis and turquoise) with a brown curving strip across the shoulder.
Condition: One end of one of the eyelets loose; one steatite inlay missing.
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