Statuette of the Goddess Isis

Apart from being the mother goddess per se, Isis was also a protective deity, as depicted by this bronze statuette. She is attached to a thin base with a tenon. On her head she is wearing cow horns supporting a sun disk, and a striated wig with a uraeus on her forehead.

Her winged arms are spread out obliquely. The feathers on the outside are rendered by dots (flight feathers) and stripes (wing feathers). The bird’s plumage is depicted on her back like scales; a broad, short tail has been carved on her buttocks.

As wife and sister of Osiris and mother of Horus, Isis embodied the virtues of the devout bride and the brave and protective mother.

The origins of the goddess Isis, who in later periods of Egyptian history became one of the most important deities, are quite difficult to know for sure: no city in Egypt claimed to be her birthplace or burial place, and we have no real records of her before the 5th Dynasty. Yet she is clearly a goddess of great importance already in the Pyramid texts, where she appears over eighty times as she assists the deceased king on his journey. In the funerary texts of later periods her protective role appears increasingly predominant and her power appears to grow to the point where she overshadows her brother and companion Osiris.

Late Period, ca. 664-332 BC. Now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Inv. 340