Nile tilapia made of dark stone
Nile tilapia made of dark stone
New Kingdom of Ancient Egypt,
18th to 20th dynasty,
C. 1550 BC to 1070 BC.
Depiction of a fish from the genus Tilapia, endemic to Northern Africa. The outlines of the fish are formed by the flat stone, the details such as fins, gills and eyes are made by grooves.
Fish played an important role in the ancient Egyptian religion and especially the nile tilapia was worshiped all over Egypt. As always for the Egyptian pantheon, the different aspects and developments of the tilapia representations are highly complex. What is clear is the aspect of fertility the fish symbolized, something strikingly constant in human art history. Nile tilapia are mouthbrooders so the association with fertility and rebirth the Egyptians had is understandable.
C. 82mm length, 52mm height, 9mm depth.
Rear fin reattached. Surface and grooves perfectly preserved. Old sticker "2546" at the rear side.
Acquired by us in a German auction house in 2018. Consigned by the heir of a German private collection. Acquired for the collection in May 1980 from the stock of the "Aegyptiaca" society in Switzerland. Selected and brokered by Hermann Schlögl (Freiburg i. Br.).
The Aegyptiaca society sold this object from the famous Matouk collection which was in storage at the archaeological collection of Zürich university. It was brought there in 1976, exported from Lebanon, with no Lebanese laws prohibiting the export.
Fouad S. Matouk formed his collection between 1925 and 1976. It was located in Egypt until 1960 and in Lebanon afterwards.
About the famous Matouk collection:
The collection of Fouad Sélim Matouk (1902-1978) included 8520 ancient Egyptian seals, amulets and bronzes, as well as some pieces dating to Greco-Roman and Coptic times. The collection held 6800 scarabs, the third biggest amount worldwide after the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and the British Museum in London.
Being Christian Arabs Matouk's parents with his son fled their country of birth Syria and settled in Egypt at the beginning of the 20th century. It was there young Matouk started to build his collection in the mid 1920ies. A prominent part was acquired by him in 1956 in Cairo. It came from the also famous collection of the antiquities dealer Ralph Harrup Blanchard (1875-1936). As a whole the Matouk collection was based on a scientific point of view concerning the typological evolution of form and decoration.
In the year 1960 the collector and trader had to leave Egypt under Nassar's rule and flea to Lebanon. After the Lebanese civil war started Matouk brought his collection to safety in Switzerland in 1976. That is how it could be protected from the chaos of the war, except for the ancient glasses which fell prey to the war. Shortly afterwards financial pressure made Matouk decide to sell his collection. He wanted the archaeological institute of Zürich university to have it. But after his unexpected death in 1978 in Beirut his son Tawfik Fouad Matouk had to continue this endeveaor.
Zürich university could not pay the full price. The resulting idea was the foundation of the "Aegyptiaca" society with the financial aid of the Swiss Federation. The society should sell part of the Matouk collection to private collectors until the revenue was enough to buy the remaining part of the collection for Zürich University. Before that the objects were properly researched by the renowned archeologists Prof. Dr. Eric Hornung, Prof. Dr. Othmar Keel, Dr. Leo Mildenberg, Dr. Hermann Schlögl and Dr. Michael Sguaitamatti.
In the end the largest part of the objects were added to the stock of Fribourg University. There, Othmar Keel worked with the pieces, in his function as a Professor for Old Testament and Biblical Environment.
From the part sold to collectors initially a significant amount of objects could be acquired by Alte Roemer Gallery in 2018 and 2019. We are extremely happy to be able to work with those important pieces ourselves. The younger history including names like Matouk and Blanchard is proudly standing up to the Old Egyptian history of those little works of art.
Cf. Petrie, Amulets, plate XLIII, no. 257a.
Literature in respect to the Matouk collection:
F. S. Matouk, Corpus du scarabée égyptien, Vol. I: Les scarabées royaux (Beyrouth, 1971). The catalogue includes 904 objects of the collection.
F. S. Matouk, Corpus du scarabée égyptien. Vol. II: Analyse thématique (Beyrouth, 1971). The catalogue includes 2480 objects of the collection.
O. Keel und C. Uehlinger, Altorientalische Miniaturkunst.
The only published work about pieces from the Blanchard collection:
R. H. Blanchard, Handbook of Egyptian Gods and Mummy Amulets (1909).
We unconditionally guarantee the authenticity of every artefact, all items are subject to our lifetime return policy on authenticity.