This is a wonderfully detailed statuette of the young god Horus, sitting on a throne, his left hand resting on his thigh. His hair, braided into a side lock of youth, his nudity and the position of his right hand, with the index finger to his mouth, all indicate that the god is a child here; therefore he could be either Harpokrates (Her-pa-khered = Horus the child) or Harsiese (Her-sa-Aset = Horus, the son of Isis). The Egyptians themselves used to "mix" these gods. A uraeus on his head cap is pointing towards his (future) kingship. On an integral base.
Steatite is a massive form of talc, consisting of hydrated magnesium silicate, making it a soft stone (its hardness on Mohs’ scale being only 1) which is also fine-grained; therefore it is very suitable for carving small objects (amulets, scarabs, small statuettes etc.), as it can be easily cut with a knife. Some varieties have a white or grey colour, others are smoke-black (see A. Lucas, Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries (3rd edition, London, 1948), p. 179, 480 (or the 4th edition, revised and enlarged by John R. Harris) for the properties of steatite).
Horus the child was a very popular god, who was often depicted. Many bronzes and amulets of him exist. But it is rare to find a statuette in steatite, with such lovely facial details. A little gem!
For the god being naked, the finger to the mouth and the lock of youth see Sandra Sandri, Har-pa-chered (Harpokrates): die Genese eines ägyptischen Götterkindes (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta, 151) (Leuven, Peeters, 2006), p. 97 – 100; for the cap with uraeus as an attribute of the god, and the preference for this on depictions from Mendes see ibid., p. 104 – 106.
Circa 26th-31st dynasty, 664-332 B.C.
Height 8.0 cm, length 3.7 cm, maximum width 2.3 cm.
Private Dutch collection, acquired at Christie's London, sale 7337 of 26 April 2006, lot 267; the previous owner had received it as a gift in 1980 from another collector.
Some minor chips at the lower end of the back side, else intact and complete with some surface wear.