Statuette of Thoth as an Ibis bird

A statuette of the god Thoth depicted as an ibis. The body of this statuette is made of wood, which was covered with fine stucco. The head with the atef crown, the neck, the tail feathers and the legs are made of silver. The eyes are in stucco with black glass.

Thoth, as the embodiment of wisdom, and the art of writing, was the patron of scribes. The ibis is next to the baboon the sacred animal of the god Thoth. Ancient Egyptians worshipped many animals. One of these was the ibis, that was linked to Thoth, god of knowledge. Thoth was also connected to the lunar cult, most probably because of the similarity between the hooked beak of the ibis and the shape of the crescent moon.

Statuette of the god Thoth as an Ibis bird
Statuette of the god Thoth as an Ibis bird

“In Egyptian art, the fact that [gods] are so often made up of human and animal parts… does not indicate that ancient Egyptians imagined their gods looked like this. These were artistic conventions for showing what could scarcely be imagined, taking elements from the natural world to help picture the ungraspable enormity of the divine.”

Egypt: Lost Civilizations, by Christina Riggs, Reaktion Books Ltd, London, UK; 2017

Thoth was the god of wisdom and knowledge, of the scribal profession, and of the moon. He was represented in the form of an ibis or depicted as a baboon with a headdress bearing a lunar disc and a crescent. He was also often manifested as a man with the head of an ibis, frequently recording important proceedings, such as at the ‘weighing of the heart‘ that judged the dead and that is usually illustrated in the ‘Book of the Dead’.

Late Period, 26th Dynasty, 664-525 BC. Now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. INV 10073