Here we have a very rare and highly interesting representation in bronze of the Egyptian god Atum in the shape of a human-headed cobra. A small cobra (uraeus, symbol of kingship) is visible on his head. The god is wearing a tripartite wig and a crown with horns, uraei and feathers. On a rectangular basis.
According to the theological tradition of Heliopolis the sun god Atum was the primeval and creator god, coming out of the primeval ocean Nun. But according to spell 175 of the Book of the Dead he did not only create the world but would also destroy it at the end of time (one of the very few eschatological texts from ancient Egypt), after which the world would return to its previous primeval state and would become an inert mass of water once again, in which only Atum and Osiris would remain, turned into snakes.
Detroit Institute of Art, Michigan, USA, 1984-1989
Nancy Thomas – Thomas W. Lentz, Man and Beast: Mythical Images from Egypt and West Asia (Los Angeles County Museum, 1985), p. 12f. Also published: Art of the Ancient World 71, Volume VIII, Part II (New York, Beverly Hills, London, 1994), p. 36, no. 178
Jacques F. Aubert – Liliane Aubert, Bronzes et or Egyptien (Paris, 2001), p. 167-168; Karol Mysliwiec, Studien zum Gott Atum (2 volumes) (Hildesheim, 1978-1979).
26th dynasty, ca. 664-525 BC.
Height 19.1 cm; length of integral base 10.5 cm; width at horns 5.4 cm.
Ex M.A. Manning collection; ex Royal-Athena Galleries; ex private Dutch collection.
Intact, with a lovely patina; the integral base somewhat roughly shaped, as can be soon on the photographs.