Egyptian Bronze Apis Bull
An ancient Egyptian bronze statuette of an Apis bull wearing a sun disk with uraeus between his horns. Incised decoration covers the body of the bull: a collar around his neck, a patterned blanket over his back, a winged scarab beetle on his shoulders and a vulture with wings outstretched on the rump.
Late Dynastic period, ca. 664-332 BC.
The cult of the Apis bull at Memphis was one of the oldest cults in Egypt. The Apis bull was a manifestation of the god Ptah and an intermediary for that god as well, endowed with oracular powers. The Apis Bull was chosen only after its predecessor had died, selected by its markings to be revered as a god. The animal was worshipped and attended to by priests. It was provided a harem of cows. Upon death it was mummified and entombed in the catacombs of the Serapeum.
Cf. bronze statuettes with similar incised decoration in the British Museum, inv. no. 1902,1013.2, and the Brooklyn Museum of Art, inv. no. 05.367.
Formerly in the Marguerite A. Wyman collection, acquired in the 1970's; acquired at Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, December 14, 1978, lot 392.