A Favorite Statue of Ptah
December 14, 2018


The following is a statue that's long been a favorite of mine, inspiring me to some artwork back in 2011:


I can't explain how very very thrilled I was to at last meet it in person. I spent a long time before its perfection, just adoring Ptah through this marvelous creation. Compared to my photo, my old artwork seems skewed, with the arm angle and curve of head not correct. That is because the reference photo I used is spread over two pages, with some data being lost in the process. I may need to revise my artwork!

Assembling its page for the gallery of Tutankhamun's Treasures, I loaded the page with all sorts of info about this favorite deity of mine, and then I decided to share it all here, too:

Gilded Wooden Statue of Ptah (Ptah wears a cobalt-blue glass skullcap.)
Wood, Gesso, Gold Leaf, Black Resin, Blue Faience, Glass (eyes)
Height 60.2cm (23.7 inches)
Reign of Tutankhamun 1336-1326 BCE
Grand Egyptian Museum #109 (formerly JE 60739)

The gilding on the "body has a high copper content, making it appear red; the gold of the face is more yellow." (Zahi Hawass, Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs (National Geographic 2005), page 204)

"The three hieroglyphs on his scepter are: ankh (life), the djed pillar (stability), and the was sign (sovereignty). (Info card)

Fuzzy, but I include the photo anyway!
"He is identified on the sloping end of his base as 'Ptah, Lord of Truth', the base itself takes the form of the hieroglyph for 'truth'. The base text also names Tutankhamun." (T.G.H. James, Tutankhamun, Metro books/White Star 2000) page 148)


Ptah is "one of the oldest of Egypt's gods and is attested representionally from the 1st dynasty onward. Nevertheless the great god of Memphis was perhaps originally only a locally important deity whose influence developed and spread slowly over time." "If Ptah was not originally a god of craftsmanship, this aspect of his identity was certainly an ancient one as it can be seen at an early date and then remains constant throughout the god's history." "During the Old Kingdom the high priest of Ptah bore the title wer-kherep-hemu 'great leader of the craftsmen': and while the god's name gives no firm clue to his origin, it is perhaps based on a root of later words meaning 'to sculpt' and thus related to his identity as a craftsman god. In this role Ptah was both the sculptor or smith of mankind and creator of the arts and crafts..."

"As a result of his identification with craftsmanship, or concurrent with it, Ptah became a god of creation and was known as the 'sculptor of the earth' who, like the ram god Khnum was believed to form everything on his potter's wheel. More fundamentally, Ptah came to be known as the 'ancient one' who united in his person both the masculine primeval deity Nun and his feminine counterpart, Naunet, so that he was seen as the primordial deity whose creative power was manifest in every aspect of the cosmos."

Honourific titles:
Nefer-her - 'merciful of face' (beautiful of face?)
Neb-Ma'at - 'lord of truth' (justice, balance)
Mesedjer-sedjem- 'the ear which hears'

All above info from Richard H. Wilkinson, Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, Thames and Hudson 2003) (pages 123-126)

I can provide hieroglyphs for one of these titles, thanks to a stele at the British museum and the Chapel of Ptah at Abydos:

Two different ways to write "Lord of Truth", one has the Netjer figure determinative in Ptah's name, while the other two don't.
Truth (Ma'at) is referenced two different ways, one with the figure of the Goddess Ma'at, and two with the Ma'at plinth

As with Thoth, Ptah also has a Reconciling Reputation. "Horus and Seth 'were reconciled and united...their quarreling ceased...being joined in the House of Ptah...'" (from the Shabako Stone, quoted by Simson Najovits in "Egypt, Trunk of the Tree", (Algora Publishing, 2003), page 191)

"And so all the gods and their kas assembled together for him (the god Ptah). The Peaceful and Reconciling One (a name of Ptah) was lord of the two lands." (Memphite Theology as quoted by John Gwyn Griffiths in The Origins of Osiris and His Cult, (Brill, 1980), page 160)

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