Terracotta head of Horus the Child (Harpocrates)
Small terracotta head. c40mm high. Hollow. The head wears a floral wreath, the double crown and sun disc. Two lotus buds are depicted each side of the disc. This is a depiction of Horus the Child (Greek Harpocrates) who is often depicted with a floral wreath, double crown and two lotus buds.
The lotus buds emphasise the generative qualities of the god, recalling the birth of the sun-god from a lotus. Harpocrates was the personification of the young sun. The double crown probably identifies him with the reigning king (Barrett 2011, 249–252). The floral wreath suggests festivities (Barrett 2011, 305-307).
Moulded terracotta figurines such as these date to the Graeco-Roman Period and are found in temples and tombs in Egypt. There use is unclear though some may be votives or cult images. The Coptic monk Shenoute refers to breaking ‘idols’ kept in pagan Egyptians’ houses. It is possible that this refers to terracottas like this (Barrett 2011, 259).
Barrett, C. E. 2011. Egyptianizing Figurines from Delos. A Study in Hellenistic Religion. Brill.
Dunand, F. 1990. Catalogue des terres cuites Gréco-Romanines d’Egypte. Paris: Ministere de la culture, de la communication et des grands travaux, Reunion des musees nationaux.
Török, L. 1995. Hellenistic and Roman Terracottas from Egypt. Rome: L’Erma di Bretscheider.