Egyptian Limestone Ichneumon
An ancient Egyptian limestone ichneumon (mongoose) statuette standing on an integral rectangular shrine base. The bones of the sacred creature are contained within a hollowed out and plugged recess in the shrine base.
Late Period, Ca. 700-30 BC.
The ichneumon or Egyptian mongoose was highly revered by the Ancient Egyptians for its skill at killing dangerous snakes and its invulnerability to their poison. The animal was a symbol of the spirits of the underworld and was particularly associated with the goddess Wadjyt.
cf.: E. Brunner-Traut, "Spitzmaus und ichneumon als Tiere des Sonnengottes," Nachrichten der Akadamie der Wissenschaften in Gottingen, (1965), pp. 123-163.
Formerly in the collection of Baron Edouard Louis Joseph Empain (1852-1929), Belgium; acquired at Christie's, London, April 14, 2011, lot 104.