Sunday, May 31, 2015

Museum Pieces - Bronze statuette of the moon god Iah

Bronze statuette of the moon god Iah

From Egypt
Late Period, after 600 BC
Height: 22.000 cm
EA 12587

The moon god Iah holding the eye of Horus

The god Iah, whose name means 'moon', first appears in the Late Period (661-332 BC). The moon god was assimilated with Osiris, god of the dead. Perhaps because, in its monthly cycle, the moon appears to renew itself. Iah also seems to have assumed the lunar aspect of Thoth, god of knowledge, writing and calculation; the segments of the moon were used as fractional symbols in writing.

Thoth was seen as the intermediary between rage and peace among the gods. According to myth, Thoth was responsible for returning the solar eye to Re after a goddess, variously interpreted as Hathor, Sekhmet or Tefnut, had fled with it to Nubia. At this time the sun-god was ruler on earth and had learned that humans were plotting against him. He decided to send the solar eye to destroy them. After the first day of destruction Re was so sickened with the carnage that he decided to spare mankind. To make the goddess forget her task, Re tricked her by making her drunk with 7000 jars of red-stained beer. When she became sober again she retreated to Nubia in embarrassment. Thoth was sent after her by Re, who eventually coaxed her into returning.

S. Quirke and A.J. Spencer, The British Museum book of anc (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)


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