SCULPTURE OF ISIS BREASTFEEDING Late Period (664-332 B.C.) Private collection

SCULPTURE OF ISIS BREASTFEEDING

Late Period (664-332 B.C.)
Private collection

Image depicting the enthroned breastfeeding goddess Isis, with tripartite wig and wearing the uraei crown, protective snakes, solar disk and cow horns. She is wearing a tight-fitting tunic and her neck is adorned with a usej necklace. Her son Horus rests on her lap, represented as Harpocrates, with an uraeus on his forehead.

Isis, wife and sister of Osiris, is one of the principal goddesses of the Egyptian pantheon, and her cult spread beyond the country’s borders. When Egypt was colonized by the Greeks (Hellenistic period), Isis was worshipped by both Greeks and Egyptians and her cult spread throughout the Mediterranean world. The Greeks attributed her with characteristics taken from their own deities, such as the invention of marriage or protection while sailing. Hellenistic culture was absorbed by Rome in the 1st century B.C., and therefore, the cult of Isis became part of Roman religion.

The image of Isis enthroned, with her child on her lap, symbol of maternal love and protection of infancy, has reached us through Christianity, in the figure of the Virgin Mary with Child, with an iconography inherent to this religion.