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Photo: Thomas R. DuBrock
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Egyptian
Ibis
664-332 BC
Wood and Bronze
13 3/8 inches
 
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Given in loving memory of Lee Hage Jamail by The Brown Foundation, Inc., Isabel B. and Wallace S. Wilson, Nina and Michael Zilkha, Lisa and Downing Mears, Nancy and Mark Abendshein, Cornelia and Meredith Long, Wilhelmina Smith, Mary and Roy Cullen, Clare and Alfred Glassell, Sandy and Lee Godfrey, Frances and Peter Marzio, Macey and Harry Reasoner, Rose and Harry Cullen, Franklin Jones, Jr., Jeanie Kilroy, Carole and Ronald Krist, Amegy Bank of Texas, Coralee and Scott Baldwin, Katherine E. Cullen, Melinda Jovita Cullen, Meredith T. Cullen, Robert L. Cullen, Roy Walter Cullen, Ellin and Robert Grossman, Anna and Harold Holliday, Judy and Charles Tate, W. S. Bellows Construction Corporation, Gwen Goffe, Nancy and Richard Kinder, Cavanaugh and Blanca O'Leary, Janet P. Hansen, Regina J. Rogers, Denise Davidson, Elisha Kimbell, Herbert C. Wells, and Jana Green

 
ABOUT

In ancient Egypt, the sacred ibis was regarded as an incarnation of Thoth, god of writing and knowledge. Thoth was often depicted engaged in some act of recording or calculation. In the Book of the Dead, he enters the results of the weighing of the heart of the deceased against the feather of truth. The long, curved beak of the ibis may have been identified with the reed pen.

This unusually large ibis has elegant proportions and animation. He strides forth on long, powerful legs of cast bronze. His sharp-clawed feet and curved beak create an impression of strength and purpose. The cult of Thoth was especially popular in late Egyptian dynasties, leading to the creation of exceptional statues and amulets. This masterwork is remarkable for its size, sculptural qualities, and exquisite bronze casting.