God Osiris

A sculptural image of the god Osiris, one of the principal deities in the Egyptian pantheon. It was made in bronze using the lost-wax technique. The figure stands upright in a rather rigid position. A pin protrudes from the lower part which would have held the piece in place on a larger base (now lost) made of bronze or wood.

Osiris is wrapped in a shroud which clings closely to the contours of his slender body. Only his hands, crossed over his chest, protrude from his shroud. He is holding a flail, the nekhekh sceptre, in his left hand and the heka sceptre in the form of a crook, in his right hand.

He wears the most representative headdress, the atef crown, on his head. This is made up of the White Crown of Upper Egypt with the addition on each side of an ostrich feather. A serpent snakes down the front of the crown with its head erect just above the god’s forehead.

Originally, the figure of Osiris was linked to the fecundity of the Egyptian soil, the renewal of vegetation and the world of shepherds, as evidenced by the heka sceptre (which reproduces the shepherds’ crook). He embodied the fertile land and the arable fields, and therefore became the guardian of the order of the universe and the cycles of nature. But the most famous myth concerning him is the one in connection with his death, known through many versions: the son of Geb (the earth) and Nut (the sky) and the husband of Isis, the god primarily was a pharaoh. With Isis, they were a pair of royal benefactors who taught mankind farming and fishing (Osiris), weaving and medicine (Isis). Jealous of the sovereign, his brother Seth assassinated him, cut up his body and disposed of the pieces in the Nile. However, Isis, his wife and faithful widow, found and reassembled the body of her husband and, with the help of her sister, Nephtys, and of Anubis, she embalmed the corpse. After breathing life into him for a short instant, Isis was impregnated by Osiris: this union resulted in the birth of Horus, who, following in the footsteps of his father, became Pharaoh. And so, after having survived the ordeal of death, Osiris triumphed thanks to the magic of his wife and became the ruler of the underworld. He represented the seeds of life and, at the same time, was the protector of the deceased, to whom he would promise life after death.

These two closely related characteristics linking the god of fecundity and the funerary divinity were certainly the basis for the success Osiris enjoyed in the Egyptian world: from the New Kingdom on, and especially during the entire 1st Millennium BC, statuettes of Osiris were among the most important funerary offerings.

The technique of lost wax casting is a sculptural procedure using a mould made from a prototype of the piece to be worked, and this prototype is usually made from beeswax. This is covered with a thick layer of soft material, usually clay, which then solidifies. Once this has hardened it is put in a kiln where the wax inside melts and leaks out through expressly made holes in the clay. In its place molten metal is injected and this takes on the exact form of the mould. To release the final piece the mould must be removed.


- Fastueuse Égypte. Musée Calvet, Avignon (25/06/2011 au 14/11/2011), ouvrage publié sous la direction d’Odile Cavalier. AVIGNON. 2011.
- Momias egipcias. El secreto de la vida eterna. Exposición. Fundación La Caixa. 2013.
- BIANCHI R. S., ZIEGLER C. Les Bronzes égyptiens - Fondation Gandur pour l’Art. Till Schaap Editions. Berne. 2014, página 96, figura 21.
- GODDIO, F. Osiris: Mystères engloutis d'Egypte. Coédition Flammarion. 2015.
- PAGE-GASSER M., WIESE A. B. Egypte, Moments d’éternité. Genève, 1997, páginas 260-261, n. 172.
- SCHOSKE, S., WILDUNG, D. Gott und Götter im Alten Ägypten. Mayence/Rhin. 1992, páginas 123-124, n. 83.
- WILKINSON, H. R. The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt. London. 2003.

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