Unknown artist, Egyptian, Possibly from the sacred animal catacombs at Tuna el Gebel
Goddess Maat, 664-525 BCE
22.9 x 5.1 x 14.6 cm (9 x 2 x 5 3/4 inches)
Helen M. Danforth Acquisition Fund 1989.088
Personified in this small masterwork is the ancient Egyptian concept of maat, a term often translated as truth, justice, balance, or proper action. Maat is traditionally portrayed as a seated woman (in this example she sits upon an altar) with an ostrich feather atop her head as a defining attribute. What sets apart this statuette representing maat is the extraordinary quality of the craftsmanship—the delicacy of the striated three-part wig with fillet gently tied at the back, the elegance of the facial features, and the contrast of the smooth, highly polished surface of the cloaked body with the smaller areas of concentrated detailing on the ostrich feather, wig, broad collar, and open-work altar.