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”. 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. These statuettes are 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 a god adopted and adapted by the Greeks, the Romans and the Egyptians.
Selection of Romano-Egyptian Terracotta Heads of Harpocrates
A selection of Romano-Egyptian terracotta heads of Harpocrates. The facial features have been carefully rendered displaying the youth of the young god. His hair falls down the sides of his face and is surmounted with a Hathoric crown over a thick wreath. The reverse is unadorned. These figurines would have been made from moulds, in two sections; the seams where the two sides were attached together in antiquity are clearly evident.
Provenance: From a North London gentleman collection, in storage since the 1970s; then property of a West London gentleman.
Condition: Fine condition, item B has a slight hole to the right side of his head next to the Hathoric crown. Both are mounted on custom-made stands.