Romano-Egyptian Terracotta Statuette of Harpocrates

£ 750.00

A very fine Ancient Romano-Egyptian hollow-moulded red terracotta statuette of a smiling chubby child figure, portrayed squatting. He is shown mischievously touching his chin with his index finger, while the left hand holds an amphora, probably containing a form of porridge. Facial and anatomical features have been rendered in a naturalistic manner, with much attention given towards the rendering of details, such as the folds of the garment the figure is wearing. The braid to the figure’s right ear, an emblem of youth in Ancient Egyptian iconography, and the elaborate lotus flower to his head, identify the figure as Harpocrates, the Hellenised version of the Egyptian god Horus The Child. The back is unmodelled and it features a hole for ventilation.

Date: Circa 2nd century AD
Condition: Very fine condition, few encrustations and minor chips.


SKU: CG-43 Category: Tags: ,

In Ancient Egyptian culture and mythology Harpocrates, Harpa-Khruti (Horus the Child), was the son of the goddess Isis and her husband Osiris. The deity was often depicted as a small boy, with a sidelock of youth and the index finger held to the lips or the chin, a typical Egyptian gesture symbolising childhood and also the Ancient Egyptian hieroglyph for “child”. However, the gesture is also linked to the action of eating porridge, which was one of the traditional children’s food in Ancient Egypt. The deity was later adopted by the Greeks and the misinterpretation of the gesture of the finger to the lips led to the association of Harpocrates with silence, hence making him the god of silence, secrets and confidentiality in Ancient Greek and Roman mythology.

This statuette is a beautiful example of the cultural and aesthetic syncretism which was common in antiquity across the Mediterranean regions. It was perfectly accepted in the Ancient World that other deities could exist and that they had no less legitimacy than those in one’s territory. Harpocrates is an example of an Egyptian god adopted and adapted by the Greeks and the Romans. The Egyptians themselves could worship deities who did not originally belong to their own culture: for instance, Astarte, the warrior goddess from Western Asia, was said to come to protect the pharaoh in battle.

To discover more about religous syncretisms in Antiquity, please visit our relevant blog post: Religious Syncretisms in the Ancient Mediterranean Region.

Weight 202.4 g
Dimensions L 6.6 x H 15.2 cm


Pottery and Porcelain

Egyptian Mythology

Greek Mythology



Reference: For a similar item, The Met Museum, item number 89.2.2002

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