Figure of Nefertum

Object 171
JIAAW, Old Department Collection

Object 171 is a faience figurine of the god Nefertum. Based on comparanda, this is likely a piece from the Late – Ptolemaic Periods (ca. 664-30 BCE). He is shown striding with his left leg forward, though his feet are broken off, and with his arms hanging by his sides. He has a beard and wears a kilt and a headdress of a lotus blossom, his main symbol. The plumes emerging from the lotus have also broken off, but the base remains visible. Hanging from both sides of his head are menats, protective symbols often associated with powerful goddesses. 

Nefertum rarely appeared in earlier periods of Egyptian history. In Coffin Texts from the Middle Kingdom, he was referred to as the son of Sekhmet. He thus became part of the divine triad, assuming the child’s role, with Ptah and Sekhmet as parents. Nefertum grew in prominence during the New Kingdom and subsequent periods. He was thought to be the personification of the primordial water lily that opened during sunrise, thus giving him a significant role in one of the ancient Egyptian creation stories. Because of the lotus’ pleasant aroma, he was also known as the god of perfumes and ointments. Additionally, his connection with Sekhmet lent him violent attributes that made him suitable as one of the guardians of Egypt, and He Who Protects the Two Lands was one of his most common epithets. This protective attribute possibly explains the high numbers of discovered Nefertum amulets and statuettes, such as this one. 

-Luiza Silva, B.A. in Archaeology and the Ancient World and Egyptology, Brown University ‘18
Candy Rui, B.A. in Egyptology, Brown University ‘18

See other examples of Nefertum figurines:

Brooklyn Museum

MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this three-dimensional work in accordance with a Creative Commons license. Fair use, as understood under the United States Copyright Act, may also apply.

Nefertum | Late Period-Ptolemaic Period | The Met

The god Nefertum was born out of a lotus flower on the mound of creation; thus he was closely connected with the sun, creation, and with the lotus, but also, more broadly, sweet-smelling, pleasant things. Nefertum was the son of Ptah and of the lion-goddess Sakhmet, and is sometimes envisioned as the son of Bastet or certain other great female lion goddesses.

Fragment of an Amulet of Nefertum – Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

Back to results Date first half of Ist millennium B.C. Object type sculpture Medium, technique Egyptian faience Dimensions height: 9.2 cm Inventory number 69.17-E Collection Egyptian Art On view This artwork can be displayed at the permanent exhibition Further artworks from this collection Recommended exhibitions