Egyptian Limestone Double Hathor Head
An ancient Egyptian limestone double-sided head of the goddess Hathor, originally part of a sistrum (ceremonial rattle).
Late Period, ca. 700-30 BC.
Hathor was a major goddess in ancient Egyptian religion who played a wide variety of roles. As a sky deity, she was the mother or consort of the sky god Horus and the sun god Ra, both of whom were connected with kingship, and thus she was the symbolic mother of their earthly counterparts, the pharaohs. She was one of several goddesses who acted as the Eye of Ra, Ra's feminine counterpart, and in this form she had a vengeful aspect that protected him from his enemies. Her contrasting, beneficent side represented music, dance, joy, love, sexuality, and maternal care, and she acted as the consort of several male deities and the mother of their sons. These two sides of the goddess exemplified the Egyptian conception of femininity. Hathor also crossed boundaries between worlds, helping deceased souls in the transition to the afterlife.
Although most examples are made of faience, there is a limestone Hathor sistrum in the Musee de la Vieille Charite, Marseille.
Formerly in a New York private collection, acquired at Hotel Drouot, Pescheteau-Badin-Ferrien, Paris, October 12, 1991; previously in a French private collection.