Relief Plaque of Cobra on a Neb Basket

This relief depicts the cobra on a neb basket from the king’s Two Ladies name. Small Late Period and Ptolemaic reliefs or sculptures that depict a subject in a partial or unfinished way but are themselves finished objects constitute a special class of object.

Guidelines like those for artists are often prominently exhibited as part of the object, although, in fact, many instances can be noted where the plaque simply could not serve as a suitable model for a traditional formal Egyptian representation.

Relief Plaque of Cobra on a Neb Basket
Relief Plaque of Cobra on a Neb Basket.

A relief plaque of a cobra on a neb basket is a common motif found in ancient Egyptian art and symbolism.

The cobra, often represented as the goddess Wadjet or Uraeus, was a symbol of protection and royalty. The neb basket, also known as the “basket of offerings,” was associated with abundance and fertility.

Personifications of kingship, figures that may represent the now emerging demigods Imhotep and Amenhotep Son of Hapu, and popular gods like Harpocrates or Isis, are heavily represented within the corpus.

Taken together, the figures represented and the other features indicate the reliefs and sculptures of this class. Sometimes called by Egyptologists “sculptor’s models or votives”.

They were the material of a donation practice, perhaps connected with the prolific temple building of these centuries. Unfortunately there is little to illuminate us about the mechanics of such a donation practice.

The combination of the cobra and the neb basket in a relief plaque would typically represent the protective and auspicious qualities associated with these symbols in ancient Egyptian culture.

Late Period to Ptolemaic Period, ca. 400-30 BC. Dimensions: H. 12.5 cm (4 15/16in.); W. 9.7 cm (3 13/16 in.); D. 1.8 cm (11/16 in.) Now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 07.228.14