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EC644Stone mould for bird with plummed head, probably a benu bird (heron). Because the item has two plumes and because of the position of its wings, it looks more like a benu bird than a lapwing.

For information on the benu bird see Tolmatcheva (2003, 522-526). The benu bird is a bird of creation, the ba of the sun god Re and a prototype of the phoenix. An Egyptian myth told of the benu bird flying over the waters of Chaos, the waters of the Nun, at the beginning of time. Its cry broke the primeval silence. 

A very similar object appears as a benu bird (phoenix) in Aufrère (1987 Number 196). George Steindorf 1946 describes number 360, a heron (benu bird) mould. ‘Similar moulds were put into tombs of the later period at the necropolis of Memphis; purpose and religious significance unknown’. There were also a number of such moulds found at Abydos, belonging to the Late Period (Peet 1914, 96, fig. 58, pl. XXL).  

Some have suggested that such moulds were used to make faience or glass figures. However, it also been suggested that these moulds which mainly take the form of resurrection related figures such as benu birds, eggs and Osiris figures could symbolise rebirth through the moulding of the mummy. An intact mould containing mummy material was found in the Late Period grave of the Chief Steward of the God’s Wife of Amun, Nitokris II (Bietak and Reiser-Hauslauer 1982, 189).  

The Centre has a mould in the stone case showing Osiris figure (EC660).



Aufrère, S. 1987. Collections Egyptiennes. Collections des Musées départment aux Seine-Maritime.

Bietak, M and Reiser-Hauslauer, E. 1982. Das Grab des Anch-hor Obermeister der Gottesgemahlin Nitokris II. Wien: Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften.

Peet, T.E. 1914. The Cemeteries of Abydos II. London: Egypt Exploration Fund.

Steindorf, G. 1946. Egyptian Sculpture In the Walters Art Gallery. Baltimore: Trustees of the Walters Art Gallery.

Tolmatcheva, E.G. 2003. A reconsideration of the Benu-bird in Egyptian Cosmogony. In Hawass, Z. and Brock, P.L. 2003. Egyptology at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century Vol. 2, 522-526