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Ba Amulet

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

Ba is the Egyptian concept closest to what is meant by the English word "soul." Its composite human-and-bird form symbolizes its ability to travel to different realms. This extremely fine amulet may date to the Ptolemaic Period, but various types of gold amulets inlaid with colored stones are known from burials of Dynasties XXVI through XXX (orca 664–342 B.C.)

MEDIUM Gold, lapis lazuli, turquoise, steatite
  • Reportedly From: Saqqara, Egypt
  • DATES 305–30 B.C.E.
    PERIOD Ptolemaic Period
    DIMENSIONS 1 1/4 x 2 11/16 x 3/8 in. (3.1 x 6.8 x 0.9 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Gold amulet with a cloissone inlay of lapis lazuli, turquoise, and steatite representing a soul in the form of a human-headed bird. Viewed from below the piece displays a human head and bird’s body modelled in the round in gold. This body is attached to outstretched wings made of a sheet of gold. Attached to each wing is an eyelet made of a strip of gold. The lower part of the underside of the tail has an inlay pattern representing five feathers (lapis-turquoise-steatite-turquoise-lapis). Seen from above the sheet of gold is inlayed to represent a feather pattern which is broken up into areas of dark and light blue (lapis and turquoise) with a brown curving strip across the shoulder. Condition: One end of one of the eyelets loose; one steatite inlay missing.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Ba Amulet, 305–30 B.C.E. Gold, lapis lazuli, turquoise, steatite, 1 1/4 x 2 11/16 x 3/8 in. (3.1 x 6.8 x 0.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.804E. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 37.804E.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 37.804E.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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