Relief Plaque with Ram Head from a God Figure
Reliefs like this ram plaque depict a subject in a partial or unfinished way but are themselves complete objects that 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 object simply could not serve as a suitable model for a traditional formal Egyptian representation. 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 / votives,” 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. This example depicts the upper part of a ram headed god probably Amun.
In ancient Egypt the ram was revered for its procreative abilities and as a symbol of virility. Its cult has been attested since the beginning of Egyptian civilization. The ram was associated with different deities: Khnum in Elephantine, Amun in Thebes, Herishef in Herakelopolis and Banebdjedet in Mendes. Moreover, it was one of the four animal representations of the sun together with the hawk, the lion and the bull.
Late Period to Ptolemaic Period, ca. 400-30 BC. Now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 18.9.1