Collections: Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art: Amulet in the Form of a Ba as Human-Headed Bird

  • 1st Floor
    Arts of Africa, Steinberg Family Sculpture Garden
  • 2nd Floor
    Arts of Asia and the Islamic World
  • 3rd Floor
    Egyptian Art, European Paintings
  • 4th Floor
    Contemporary Art, Decorative Arts, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art
  • 5th Floor
    Luce Center for American Art

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    37.804E_SL1.jpg 37.804E.jpg CUR.37.804E_wwg8.jpg 37.804E_negD_bw.jpg 37.804E_negE_bw.jpg

    Amulet in the Form of a Ba as Human-Headed Bird

    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.)

    • Medium: Gold, lapis lazuli, turquoise and steatite
    • Reportedly From: Saqqara, Egypt
    • Dates: 664 B.C.E. or later
    • Dynasty: XXVI Dynasty or later
    • Period: Late Period or Ptolemaic Period
    • Dimensions: 1 1/4 x 2 11/16 x 3/8in. (3.1 x 6.8 x 0.9cm)  (show scale)
    • Collections:Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art
    • Museum Location: This item is on view in Egypt Reborn: Art for Eternity, 19th Dynasty to Roman Period, Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Gallery, 3rd Floor
    • Exhibitions:
    • Accession Number: 37.804E
    • Credit Line: Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    • Rights Statement: Creative Commons-BY
    • Caption: Amulet in the Form of a Ba as Human-Headed Bird, 664 B.C.E. or later. Gold, lapis lazuli, turquoise and steatite, 1 1/4 x 2 11/16 x 3/8in. (3.1 x 6.8 x 0.9cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.804E. Creative Commons-BY
    • Image: overall, 37.804E_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    • Catalogue Description: 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.
    • Record Completeness: Best (90%)
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