3/4 profile Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
2020.288
Title
Statuette of a Baboon
Classification
Sculpture
Work Type
funerary sculpture
Date
1295-1070 BCE
Places
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Africa, Egypt (Ancient)
Period
New Kingdom
Culture
Egyptian
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/371010
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Limestone with traces of paint
Technique
Carved
Dimensions
23.5 × 8.5 × 14.5 cm (9 1/4 × 3 3/8 × 5 11/16 in.)
Provenance
[C. Dikran Kelekian Ancient Arts, New York, (by 1976)], sold; to Robert and Sally Huxley, New York (1976-2020), gift; to the Harvard Art Museums.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Robert and Sally Huxley in memory of the Kelekian Family
Accession Year
2020
Object Number
2020.288
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.
Descriptions
Description
As the hieroglyphic writing around all four sides of its base tells us, this statuette was dedicated to the god Thoth and inscribed for a man named Paser. It may have stood in a temple to the god (perhaps at Hermopolis or Karnak). It depicts a baboon squatting with its hands resting on its knees. The monkey’s long tail curves around its proper right side. As is usual for Egyptian baboon sculptures, the genitalia project between the animal’s feet, emphasizing his sexual potency and prowess.

The baboon could represent Thoth, a moon god and god of writing and science. Since the inscription reveals that Paser was a scribe, he would have viewed Thoth as his patron. The inscription emphasizes Paser’s silence and good character, giving us a sense of the ideal temperament for scribes in the Egyptian world.

The monkey’s fur is not indicated by carving, but may have been rendered in paint. Traces of a reddish brown pigment, likely hematite, an iron ocher, survive in some of the areas where the figure joins the base, as well as in some of the hieroglyphs. Red is also attested for other baboon images.

There is no hole in the statuette’s head for an attachment such as the lunar disk atop a crescent moon familiar from other images of Thoth. The statue is a little lop-sided, and its base is rough below. Its surface is pitted and chipped, and the inscription is quite worn in parts. An Arab number is written on the chest.

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu