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Aus der Wunderkammer Chiddingstone Castle –


Pharaonen, Buddhas, Samurai
Erica Nunn-Kinias (Buddhist art, China, Tibet and Southeast Asia) and
Nicholas Reeves (Egypt, Japan, other)

Catalogue of a loan exhibition from the Denys Eyre Bower Bequest, Chiddingstone Castle, to the
Roemer- und Pelizaeus-Museum, Hildesheim, 28 January-22 May 2005

(Not previously published)

Denys Eyre Bower – ein Leben für eine Sammlung

Hinter der Sammlung aus Chiddingstone Castle steht eine außergewöhnliche Persönlichkeit: Denys
Eyre Bower (1905-1977), ein leidenschaftlicher Sammler von Kindheit an, hat seine
bemerkenswerte Kollektion von insgesamt rund 5000 Objekten ohne großes Vermögen im Laufe
seines Lebens allein aufgebaut - geleitet vom Blick eines englischen Exzentrikers, der sein Leben
ganz seiner Sammelleidenschaft widmete. Der von Zeitgenossen als „eigensinnig, brillant und
liebenswert“ beschriebene Engländer konzentrierte sich dabei auf folgende Bereiche: Die
altägyptische Kunst, den Buddhismus, die japanische Schwerter- und Lackkunst sowie die
Geschichte der Stuarts und der Jakobiter. Die Objekte stammen unter anderem aus dem Kauf bei
Auktionen und im Handel, wo sie zu diesem Zeitpunkt noch erschwinglich bzw. nicht besonders
begehrt waren. Zudem wurden zu Beginn des 20. Jh. die Sammlungen der alten Familien und
Industriemagnaten des 19. Jh. aufgelöst, und insbesondere japanische Lackkunst war günstig zu
erwerben.

Bower gab nach 20 Jahren bei der Midland Bank seine Stellung auf und eröffnete eine Galerie für
orientalische Kunst in London, wo er sich zwölf Jahre erfolgreich seiner Sammelleidenschaft
widmete. 1956 fand er eine neue Herberge für seine Sammlung im restaurierungsbedürftigen
Chiddingstone Castle im südenglischen Kent. Eine erfolglose Verlobung im folgenden Jahr endete für
Bower tragisch: Der Zurückgewiesene verletzte sich und seine ehemalige Verlobte in einer
Affekthandlung mit einem alten Revolver und wurde nach einem ungünstig verlaufenen Prozess zu
lebenslanger Haft verurteilt. Erst auf Intervention der Bank, die ihm einen hohen Kredit zur
Finanzierung des Kaufs von Chiddingstone Castle gewährt hatte, wurde seine Freilassung nach fünf
Jahren erreicht, so dass Bower seine Sammlertätigkeit – wenn auch in eingeschränktem Maße –
wieder aufnehmen konnte. Das Schloss wurde der Öffentlichkeit wieder zugänglich gemacht – auf
ausdrücklichen Wunsch Bowers, der in seinem letzten Willen verfügte: „Ich habe mein Leben dem
Aufbau dieser Sammlungen gewidmet, und es ist mein Wunsch, dass sie in diesem Zustand erhalten
bleiben und in Chiddingstone Castle ausgestellt werden, so dass künftige Generationen sie so
genießen können, wie ich es heute tue.“

DENYS EYRE BOWER

Portrait of Denys Eyre Bower


Oil on canvas
English
20th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2999

Portrait of Denys Eyre Bower painted after his release from prison in 1962, showing the collector
reunited with one of his prize pieces—a fine Tibetan Buddha Shakyamuni in gilded bronze of the
16th or 17th century (01.1526, displayed elsewhere in this exhibition). The artist, Laura Knight (nee
Johnson), was a well-respected painter of the day and, like Bower himself, a native of Derbyshire.

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Born in 1877, she was encouraged to paint by her mother, at 13 enrolling for study at Nottingham
School of Art where she met her future husband, Harold Knight. After marriage the couple moved to
Cornwall in 1907, becoming central figures in the artists’ colony at Lamorna. In 1919 Laura Knight
established a base in London, where she and Bower subsequently crossed paths and this painting
was commissioned. Made a Dame in 1929 for services to art, in 1936 she became the first woman
to be elected to the Royal Academy, dying in 1970 aged 93.

ANCIENT EGYPT

Predynastic Period

Jar
Limestone
Egypt
Predynastic Period, Naqada II, before 3000 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0001

In the production of vessels from the stones available to them—alabaster, basalt, breccia, diorite,
dolorite, limestone and serpentine—the Predynastic Egyptians soon demonstrated an extraordinary
mastery. From as early as the fourth millennium BC an abundance of finely made vessels in a range
of types occurs among burials of the Egyptian privileged classes. Some of these vessels were clearly
produced for daily life. In a number of examples of the stem-footed type displayed here, for
example, considerable wear may be seen in the piercings of the lug handles, presumably as a result
of suspension and use over an extended period of time. The absence of such wear on the present
specimen may indicate that it had been produced solely for the tomb.

Tubular-handled jar
Basalt
Egypt
Predynastic Period, Naqada II-Early Dynastic Period, 1st Dynasty, before 2828 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0006

Tubular-handled jar
Limestone
Egypt
Predynastic Period, Naqada II-Early Dynastic Period, 1st Dynasty, before 2828 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0035

Although the manufacture of stone vessels was extremely time-consuming, a prodigious number of
exquisite quality has come down to us, dating from the very earliest phases of Egyptian civilization.
Manufacture clearly followed a set pattern. Roughly chipped and abraded to a satisfactory external
shape, the interior was then hollowed out by means of a crank drill of wood fitted with a bit of flint
or some other hard stone, with a tubular drill of copper (employed with a suitable abrasive)
occasionally used to begin the hollowing process. Only when the internal shaping had been
satisfactorily achieved was external finishing begun, with final polishing achieved by means of
quartzite or limestone rubbers.

Black-topped vessel
Pottery
Egypt
Predynastic Period, Naqada I-II, before 3000 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0487

Black-ware bowl
Pottery
Egypt
Predynastic Period, Naqada I-II, before 3000 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0497

Red-ware jar
Pottery

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Egypt
Predynastic Period, Naqada II-III, before 3000 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0486

The fabric of the earlier of these Predynastic Egyptian vessels is a Nile silt, coil made, and in the
case of the jar finished with a reddish-brown haematite wash in addition to the characteristic black
surface produced by firing inverted in ash in a reducing atmosphere. A ware initially (and
mistakenly) identified in 1895 as ‘New Race’ pottery which had been introduced into Egypt following
the fall of the Old Kingdom, the actual prehistoric nature of this and associated wares soon became
apparent, with a brilliantly successful relative-dating system for the various Predynastic pottery
types established by the British Egyptologist W.M. Flinders Petrie in 1901. The black-burnished
wares subsequently develop into finer, harder, burnished red-wares represented by the third vessel
displayed here.

Buff-ware jar
Painted pottery
Egypt
Predynastic Period, Naqada II, before 3000 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0027

Buff-ware double-jar
Painted pottery
Egypt
Predynastic Period, Naqada II, before 3000 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0042

Buff-ware jar
Painted pottery
Egypt
Predynastic Period, Naqada II, before 3000 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0708

From the earliest times, the Egyptians showed a clear predilection for the reproduction of different
vessel-types in a range of materials. The most frequently encountered crossovers, naturally enough,
are copies in ceramic of more expensive, high-status vessels in stone. As the artistic impulse
developed, however, imitations of vessels in other, less intrinsically valuable materials occur also—
such as the tubular-handled, marl-ware jars shown here, which display in applied red what have
been recognized as highly schematized renderings of basketry prototypes.

Fish vessel
Painted pottery
Egypt
Predynastic Period(?), Naqada II(?), before 3000 BC(?)
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0504

The precise attribution of this extraordinary (cat?)fish-shaped vessel is far from certain, but the
ware appears to be ancient and a Predynastic dating (a period when such vessels do sporadically
occur in a range of types and materials) seems at least a possibility. Modelled by hand and with
detail added in black after firing, the undeniable charm of the piece will doubtless inspire further
research.

Early Dynastic Period

Cylinder seal
Steatite
Egypt
Early Dynastic Period, 1st-2nd Dynasty, 3007-2682 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0078

This Early Dynastic seal is carved in a black steatite and shows well the large central piercing
characteristic of the earliest cylinders. The inscription, as so often, appears somewhat garbled, and
its precise reading is therefore uncertain. As the surface wear perhaps suggests, this cylinder seal

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was a practical item intended for actual use, worn, as seems to have been the fashion, threaded on
a cord and suspended around the neck.

Old Kingdom

Seven sacred oils tablet


Egyptian alabaster
Egypt, Sidmant el-Gebel, tomb of Meryrehaishtef
Old Kingdom, 6th Dynasty, 2322-2191 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0077

The tomb of Meryrehaishtef, a lector priest, was discovered at Sidmant el-Gebel by Flinders Petrie’s
British School of Archaeology in Egypt during the season 1920-21. The prize of the season, the
tomb comprised a small rock-cut chapel with an undisturbed shaft in one corner of the courtyard.
Upon excavation, this shaft yielded three remarkable naked wooden statues of the owner, together
with the statue of a naked woman (their nakedness explained as a desire for resurrection with the
genital organs intact). Among other grave-goods, the coffin itself was found to contain an alabaster
headrest. Although the present tablet is not recorded in the archaeological report, the inscriptions
clearly reveal it to have been intended for Meryrehaishtef’s burial equipment, from which it must
have strayed during the excavation process.

Middle Kingdom

Cylinder seal
Glazed steatite
Egypt
Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty, reign of Amenemhet II, 1914-1879/6 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0075

Cylinder seal
Glazed steatite
Egypt
Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty, reign of Amenemhet III, 1853-1806/5 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0073

Cylinder seal
Glazed steatite
Egypt
Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty, reign of Amenemhet III, 1853-1806/5 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0074

Cylinder seals of the Middle Kingdom appear to have been symbolic as well as functional, carried as
much for the amuletic protection the names inscribed upon them bestowed. While the deep cutting
of the first (and earliest) specimen shown here, of Amenemhat II, attests to its practicality as a
seal, the same cannot be said for its two later companion-pieces. These last carry respectively the
prenomen of Amenemhet III (described as beloved of an aspect of Sobek) and the six prenomens of
Amenemhat III and five of his powerful predecessors: Amenemhet I, Senwosret I, Amenemhet II,
Senwosret III (sic), Senwosret II (sic)—in combination doubtless offering a particularly potent
protection.

Section from a mirror handle


Steatite
Egypt
Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty, 1976-1794/3 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0410

The typical Egyptian mirror consisted of a slightly flattened solar disc of burnished metal, shaped
with a tang to fit into an independently fashioned handle. The present item, competently carved in
steatite with addorsed female heads—perhaps allusions to Hathor, the goddess of love and beauty—
represents the uppermost component of such a handle, slotted at the top to receive the tang of the
disc. Because it captured the image of the living face, the mirror became closely associated in the
Egyptian mind with the concept of revivification and is commonly found interred with the mummy.

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Kohl pot and lid
Anhydrite
Egypt
Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty, 1976-1794/5 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0003

Monkey kohl pot


Anhydrite
Egypt
Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty, 1976-1794/5 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0036

The use of cosmetics to enhance and protect the eyes had been a feature of Egyptian civilization
since prehistoric times. There were two basic types: the older green variant (which had fallen out of
favour by the New Kingdom) based on ground malachite; and the more familiar black ‘kohl’ eye
make-up on galena (lead ore). Special containers were produced to hold such cosmetics, in a range
of forms—during the Middle and New Kingdoms squat, lidded versions being the most popular, in a
range of stones. That employed here is anhydrite, a rare and desirable material used over a very
restricted time-span and encountered in a range of funerary contexts from the beginning of the
12th Dynasty through to the Second Intermediate Period.

Cosmetic jar
Alabaster
Egypt
Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty, 1976-1794/5 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0474

Cosmetic jar
Steatite
Egypt, Abydos
Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty, 1976-1794/5 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0441

The gently flaring outline of these two closely similar stone jars identifies them as the type of
container referred to by the ancient Egyptians as a bas-vessel—a form dating back to Predynastic
times and frequently encountered in faience and a range of hard and precious stones, including
obsidian (the latter occasionally found mounted in gold). Because of its shared sound value, the
hieroglyph reproducing the vessel form is used in writing the name of the goddess Bastet. The type
seems to have served for ointment for ritual or personal use both in this world and the beyond.

Statuette of a man
Steatite
Egypt
Middle Kingdom, 13th Dynasty or earlier, before 1645 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0426

This small and rudimentarily carved steatite figure of a man is shown wearing a curious rounded wig
and a long, triangular-fronted kilt upon which he rests his hands, palm down, in a gesture of
respect. The left foot is advanced, if tentatively, in the traditional manner intended to express
freedom of movement. Figures of this type are encountered both in the tombs of their owners—as a
repository for the owner’s ka or spirit should the body itself be destroyed—and as ex votos placed in
the presence of the gods to partake of their offerings. The present figure is uninscribed, and the
name and (doubtless modest) rank of its owner are therefore lost to us.

Head of an official
Basalt
Egypt
Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty, 1976-1794/3 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0430

Head of an official

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Basalt
Egypt
Middle Kingdom, 13th Dynasty, 1794/3-1648/5 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0015

The two small heads displayed here, both broken from larger sculptures which will have been
originally set up in their owners’ tombs or as votives at a temple site such as Abydos (where many
hundreds of such pieces have been found), differ markedly in material and in style. Each depicts a
male and minor functionary of the king, the first wearing a conservatively modelled bag wig or wig-
cover, the second a striated wig with lappets cut at a rakish angle. The facial features of sculptures
on this scale and of this social class, though generally competently carved, rarely ever aspire to true
portraiture.

Stela of Siamun
Limestone
Egypt, probably Abydos
Middle Kingdom, 13th Dynasty, 1794/3-1648/5 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2882

The owner (and doubtless designer) of this large and important limestone stela, which dates from
the 13th Dynasty, was an overseer of scribes by the name of Siamun, senior member of a family of
scribes who most probably dedicated the monument in the presence of Osiris, lord of the
Underworld, in the sacred precincts of Abydos, focus of the god’s cult, from where many such
monuments have been recovered. Formerly in the collection of the American newspaper magnate
William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951), Siamun’s stela is of characteristic round-topped form with its
sunk-relief decoration divided into a series of registers populated to a quite extraordinary extent by
Siamun’s numerous family members.

Shawabti of Ipu
Limestone
Egypt, probably Abydos
Middle Kingdom, 13th Dynasty, 1794/3-1648/5 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0322

This peculiar-looking image, summarily modelled in limestone and preserving a considerable


amount of its original paint, represents a rare shawabti figure of the 13th Dynasty. It is named for a
man named Ipu, who is described as steward of the temple of Abydos—from which site the find was
doubtless recovered during the 19th or early years of the 20th century. The vertical columns of
hieroglyphic script which decorate the lower torso carry a slightly garbled, early version of the
shawabti spell (Coffin Texts 472). The form of the bird signs, which are shown without legs—a ploy
intended to render the creatures harmless to the deceased in the Beyond—is a characteristic feature
of such early texts.

Second Intermediate Period

Scarab
Steatite
Egypt
Second Intermediate Period, 15th-16th Dynasty, reign of Anather, circa 1648/5-1539/6 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0103

The Hyksos (a name derived from the Egyptian heka khasut, ‘rulers of foreign lands’) entered Egypt
from Syria-Palestine during the late Middle Kingdom, coming to dominance in Lower Egypt (the
Delta) during the Second Intermediate Period. Although these kings and kinglets of the 15th-16th
Dynasties seem to have adopted traditional Egyptian royal titularies and modes of representation, in
less formal contexts in particular they did occasionally refer to themselves as ‘Hyksos’—as here on
this fine scarab of ‘The ruler of foreign lands, Anather’, of whom the ancient owner of this little gem
was presumably a functionary.

Sphinx spacer bead


Carnelian
Egypt

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Second Intermediate Period, 1648/5-1539/6 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0149

Sphinx
Bronze
Egypt
Roman Period, 30 BC-AD 395
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0386

The traditional Egyptian sphinx, with its lion’s body and human face, was a curious mix of brute
strength and contemplative intelligence, and throughout history was regarded as a power for good
and a guardian figure closely associated with the person of the king. The most famous sphinx
known today is the Great Sphinx, a colossal sculpture carved from a limestone outcrop in the Old
Kingdom royal necropolis at Giza, which by the New Kingdom had come to be worshipped as a
representation of the sun god, Horus-in-the-horizon. Here in these two stylistically very different
objects the Giza type is reproduced on rather more modest scale—as an amuletic motif in carnelian
(a material with clear solar associations) and as a decorative bronze fitting from a piece of temple
furniture dating from the very end of the pharaonic tradition.

New Kingdom

Scarab ring
Glazed steatite and gold
Egypt
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, 1550-1292 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0611

Scarabs, when employed as jewellery, were worn with beads around the neck, wrist or ankle, or
else tied on a simple string or mounted formally within a ring-bezel for wear on one or other of the
fingers. Because such formal settings tended to preclude use of the decorated or inscribed base for
purposes of sealing, the scarab’s principal role in such a setting was either amuletic or decorative.
Here the gold-mounted scarab is attached to the tubular ring shank by means of a gold wire twisted
around the terminals, allowing it to rotate to display either the beetle-form back or flat, decorated
base.

Dummy vessel from a foundation deposit


Egyptian alabaster
Egypt, Koptos, temple of Thutmose III
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, reign of Thutmose III, 1479-1425 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0002

This model in alabaster of a bas-vessel is one of twelve recovered by the famous British
archaeologist Flinders Petrie in 1893-4 among foundation deposits placed by Thutmose III of the
18th Dynasty during building-work at Koptos, capital of the 5th Upper Egyptian nome or district and
a rich and important point of departure for Red Sea trading expeditions. The carefully cut
inscription, in characteristic 18th Dynasty hieroglyphs, reads ‘The good god, Thutmose III, beloved
of Min of Koptos’, and clearly associates the piece with an earlier version of the Ptolemaic Northern
Temple of Min and Isis which now occupies the site. It was formerly in the collection of F.G. Hilton
Price.

Cosmetic jar
Egyptian alabaster
Egypt
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, 1550-1292 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0453

Cosmetic jar
Egyptian alabaster
Egypt
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, 1550-1292 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0454

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Although stone vessels had been popular in Egypt since Predynastic times, the production of larger-
scale versions was only seriously resumed in the 18th Dynasty. The materials most commonly
employed at this time were serpentine and Egyptian alabaster, relatively soft stones which are
easily cut and take a polish. Both of the alabaster vessels displayed here are characteristic of the
period—objects produced for daily life whose intended use was doubtless the storage of fat-based
cosmetics (the wide-mouthed specimen) or precious oils (the closed, bag-shaped version). As with
the majority of such vessels, the original findspot will doubtless have been a tomb.

Dummy vessel of Tanofret


Limestone
Egypt
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, 1550-1292 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2813

The ancient Egyptian were a pragmatic people and very much averse to waste. For funerary
purposes, therefore, models rather than actual vessels were frequently employed, particularly when
both container and contents were of some value. Expensive vessels of glass, for example, were
often represented in the tomb by painted wooden or pottery dummies—permissible since, by
magical means, in the Beyond, they would actually become the material they sought to imitate. The
present model of a cosmetic jar, fashioned from inexpensive limestone, was prepared for the burial
of the lady of the house Tanofret whose name is incised in a column of neatly cut hieroglyphs down
the front.

‘Concubine’ figure
Faience
Egypt
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, 1550-1292 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0701

This small image of a woman, summarily modelled in bright blue faience, represents a type of
object variously identified in the literature as a doll, concubine for the dead, or fertility figure. As a
class of object, such images are encountered in private tombs from the late First Intermediate
Period through to the end of the New Kingdom, in a range of sizes and qualities. In the more
elaborate of these later versions the figure is often represented lying upon a bed decorated with
images of Bes and Taweret, the principal deities of the home, wearing a heavy, sensual wig
surmounted by a cone of sweet-smelling perfume.

Figure of the god Ptah


Wood
Egypt
Probably Late Period, 664-332 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0374

Cylinder seal with image of Ptah


Glazed steatite
Egypt
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, 1550-1292 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2820

Ptah was the local god of Memphis, a royal residence which functioned as the administrative capital
of the country throughout Egyptian history. Worshipped as the principal figure of the Memphite triad
or grouping of three gods (his partner being the lioness-headed Sekhmet and their offspring
Nefertum), Ptah was the divine patron of craftsmen and artists, equated by the Greeks with
Hephaistos. The wooden figure displayed here was probably a temple votive. From the god’s
prominence on the second, smaller item—a fine and unusual cylinder-seal amulet—we may perhaps
guess that the ancient owner was not only a person of worth but of Memphite origin.

Scarab with figure of Thutmose III


Steatite
Egypt
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, 1550-1292 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0108

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Scarab with the god Seth
Steatite
Egypt
New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty, 1292-1186/5 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0093

Scarab with cryptographic motto


Glazed steatite
Egypt
Probably Third Intermediate Period, 21st Dynasty, 1070-946/5 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0110

Small, personal amulets are today among the most frequently encountered Egyptian antiquities,
and those amulets which take the form of the scarab beetle (Scarabaeus sacer) are the commonest
of all—for a good reason. The scarab beetles rolls its eggs in a ball of dung, and the appearance of
new life from dead matter was seen as a perfect metaphor for the rebirth to which all Egyptians
aspired. In life, therefore, as well as in death, scarab amulets represented an immensely powerful
talisman, and were carried by one and all. Each of the amulets shown here is individually carved by
hand—not moulded or otherwise mass-produced—and the perfection of the best among them is
truly remarkable.

Magical figure
Wood
Egypt
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, 1550-1292 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0347

Although this standing, mummiform figure resembles a shawabti figure, a closer inspection of the
position of the hands will indicate that the figure was intended to hold a vertical amuletic staff
rather than amulets or agricultural implements. This would seem to identify the figure as a magical
genie of a type encountered during the 18th Dynasty in a variety of funerary contexts—as a
‘magical brick’ figure, for example, set upon an inscribed clay base, hidden within the burial
chamber wall or otherwise positioned as a protection for the physical body of the deceased.

Pectoral
Egyptian blue
Egypt
New Kingdom, 1550-1070/69 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0435

Shrine-shaped breast ornaments were characteristic products of the Egyptian jeweller and faience
worker from the Middle Kingdom on, with the present specimen—manufactured in ‘Egyptian blue’ (a
precious, intensely coloured material related to glass)—doubtless prepared for funerary use and
bandaged in with the wrappings of a mummy. The hieroglyphs which purport to identify the
elaborately dressed owner, shown censing before Anubis, are illegible.

Human-headed heart amulet


Basalt
Egypt
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, 1550-1292 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0045

From the late Middle Kingdom on it became the custom to place within the wrappings of the
mummy, over the heart—the seat of human intellect and essential for resurrection in the Beyond—
an amulet whose purpose is defined in Book of the Dead Chapter 30B: not to testify against the
deceased when he declares his innocence before the divine tribunal on the day of judgement. Such
amulets more commonly take the form of a large scarab beetle, occasionally shown with a human
face or head and often inscribed on the base with the appropriate Book of the Dead text. Here, in
allusion to Book of the Dead Chapter 2— the aim of which was to ensure by magical means the
return of the heart to its owner in the Hereafter— the amulet takes on a heart-shaped form
surmounted by a human head wearing the characteristic striated wig.

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Butt-plate from an axe, inscribed with the prenomen of Amenhotep III
Faience
Egypt, probably Thebes, Valley of the Kings, tomb of Amenhotep III, WV22
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, reign of Amenhotep III, 1388-1351/50 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0047

Mould for an elongated bead


Terracotta
Egypt, perhaps Malqata
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, reign of Amenhotep III, 1388-1351/50 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0090

The tomb of Amenhotep III is located in an annexe of the Valley of the Kings known as the West
Valley, and was once one of the richest burials in Egypt. The interior, until recently filled high with
rubble, has been raked over by both locals and a steady stream of tourists for more than two
centuries—bringing on to the market various fragmented elements of the king’s original funerary
equipment. Among such fragments is probably to be recognized this faience butt-plate, evidently
from a battle-axe and in the purple/pale blue-green glaze typical of the period. Displayed with this
item is a terracotta mould of the type employed to prepare such faience objects, here an elongated
bead of Amenhotep III. It probably comes from the ruins of the king’s Theban palace at Malqata,
where many such pieces have been found.

Wedjat-eye ring
Bichrome faience
Egypt
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, reign of Amenhotep III, 1388-1351/50 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0598

Wedjat, the Egyptian name applied to the eye of the falcon-god Horus, translates as ‘that which is
whole’, or ‘uninjured’. The allusion is to the magically restored eye which had been torn during
combat from the face of the Horus (a metaphor for the reigning king, the upholder of cosmic order)
by Seth, the murderer of Osiris (a metaphor for chaos). The wedjat-eye is one of the most common
Egyptian amuletic motifs, here presented as the bezel of a ring of bichrome faience. Many examples
of this ring-type exist, identical in appearance and clearly originating in a common workshop.

Shawabti of Tamit
Painted wood
Egypt, probably Thebes
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, reign of Amenhotep III, 1388-1351/50 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0569

This painted wooden shawabti of the lady Tamit—‘Pussycat’—possesses an interesting modern


history: it was favourably commented upon by Howard Carter at the 1921 sale of the collection of
Lord Amherst of Hackney (of which it once formed a part), and reputedly provided the inspiration
for the author Rider Haggard’s famous novel She. From its style, the piece clearly dates from the
reign of Amenhotep III and it represents one of the most appealing and sensitively carved and
painted funerary figures to have survived from that time. A wooden box of the same approximate
date and similarly inscribed for a lady Tamit is in Turin. The box may, with the shawabti, have
formed part of the lady’s undisturbed burial before the tomb fell prey to the mass clearances
undertaken by Bernardino Drovetti and others at Thebes during the early years of the nineteenth
century.

Shawabti
Wood
Egypt
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, reign of Amenhotep III, 1388-1351/50 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0290

The facial features and elegant proportions of this shawabti figure, which is carved from an
expensive, fine-grained wood, identify it as a product of the reign of Amenhotep III, ‘Egypt’s
dazzling sun’, a reign which marked a particular highpoint in dynastic material culture. The style is

11
reminiscent of other figures brought to light in 1905 in the Valley of the Kings tomb of Yuya and
Tjuyu, the parents-in-law of Amenhotep III, though the attenuated form here is rather more
pronounced. The shawabti is uninscribed, and the original ownership of the piece therefore lost.

‘Earplug’
Glass
Egypt
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, probably reigns of Amenhotep III-Akhenaten, 1388-1334 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.640

‘Earplug’
Glass
Egypt
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, probably reigns of Amenhotep III-Akhenaten, 1388-1334 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.642

‘Earplug’
Glass
Egypt
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, probably reigns of Amenhotep III-Akhenaten, 1388-1334 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.645

‘Earplug’
Glass
Egypt
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, probably reigns of Amenhotep III-Akhenaten, 1388-1334 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.646

‘Earplug’
Glass
Egypt
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, probably reigns of Amenhotep III-Akhenaten, 1388-1334 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.647

The precise function of objects of this type is disputed. They have been recognized by some
Egyptologists as decorative plugs for the ear—despite the fact that the most decorative aspect of
the type, the stem, would be concealed in wear and what is generally the least attractive aspect,
the flattened head, given prominent display. For others, influenced by the vertical piercing, they
represent amuletic beads or pendants reminiscent of the wadj or papyrus-sceptre symbolizing green
shoots and rebirth. As intriguing as the form, however, is the material, which is glass, the world’s
first ersatz composition—according to the Bible, as precious in the ancient Near East as rubies and
gold.

Canopic-chest fragment of Akhenaten


Alabaster
Egypt, el-Amarna, tomb of Akhenaten, no. 26
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, reign of Akhenaten, 1351-1334 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0030

There are few more emotive figures in the history of ancient Egypt than Akhenaten, the king who
abandoned the worship of Egypt’s traditional pantheon in favour of a single god immanent in the
solar disc—the Aten. Akhenaten was buried at el-Amarna within the Great Royal Tomb, a sepulchre
which was emptied at the end of the reign of Tutankhamun and its occupants transferred for
reburial in the Valley of the Kings at Thebes. While the lighter elements of the king’s burial
equipment were removed at this time, the heavier pieces evidently proved too heavy to shift and
were deliberately smashed in situ to prevent inappropriate reuse. The fragment shown here,
inscribed with alternating early forms of the Aten’s cartouches, comes from one side of the lid of
Akhenaten’s canopic chest. The holes for the gilded-copper staple employed in lashing the lid in
position on the box are clearly visible.

Finger ring with the name of Queen Tiye


Faience

12
Egypt
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, reign of Amenhotep III, 1388-1351/50 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0604

Finger ring with the prenomen of Akhenaten


Faience
Egypt
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, reign of Akhenaten, 1351-1334 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0619

During the reigns of Amenhotep III and his son, Amenhotep IV-Akhenaten, the popular use of cheap
festal rings of coloured faience—the world’s first ‘costume jewellery’—increased considerably, with
the names of most of the important members of the royal family represented within the corpus as it
currently stands. The two rings shown here are inscribed, respectively, for Tiye, consort of
Amenhotep III and Akhenaten’s mother, and for Akhenaten himself in a rarely seen (and
presumably early) truncation of the king’s prenomen, ‘Neferkheprure’. Both rings are copies of the
‘stirrup’ type, issued in both precious and base metals to officials charged with acting (at a senior or
junior capacity) on behalf of the member of royalty named.

Khepru pendant of Nefertiti


Faience
Egypt
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, coregency of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, circa 1340 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0130

The Amarna date of this small, flat-backed faience pendant is proclaimed by the close-fitting cap-
crown which identifies its subject as the famous queen Nefertiti, consort of the ‘heretic’ pharaoh
Akhenaten. It shows the queen manifest as Re of Heliopolis, crouching with finger to mouth,
childlike, manifestation of the new sun as it is reborn each day at dawn. What is remarkable is that
Nefertiti, a queen, should be shown in this regal guise—a representation which clearly acknowledges
her elevation to co-regent status during the second half of Akhenaten’s reign.

Bead in the form of a calf


Carnelian
Egypt
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, circa 1340 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0151

Although the form of this object seems at first glance to identify it as a weight for gold dust (a type
of object frequently encountered in New Kingdom tomb scenes and in the archaeological record),
the longitudinal piercing clearly reveals its actual function to have been that of a simple decorative
bead or amulet. The significance of the calf subject-matter, with no obvious religious connotations,
is obscure, but brings to mind the celebration of the natural world during the Amarna era, to which
period it should probably be assigned.

Lotus collar-terminal
Faience
Egypt
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, probably reign of Amenhotep III-Akhenaten, 1388-1334 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0415

Papyrus inlay
Faience
Egypt
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, reign of Akhenaten, 1351-1334 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0416

One of the commonest items of personal adornment in ancient Egypt (seen everywhere in ancient
sculpture, reliefs and paintings) is the heavy beaded collar known as a wesekh, ‘the broad one’—an
imitation in faience of a floral neck garland, actual examples of which have been recovered from a
pit in the Valley of the Kings (KV54) associated with the burial of Tutankhamun. At the end of the
18th Dynasty the terminals of such collars regularly take the form of a lotus blossom in bichrome or

13
polychrome faience. The second piece displayed here, again in faience, is an inlay, this time
apparently of Amarna date and representing another common naturalistic motif: a papyrus bloom.

Decorative fragment
Polychrome faience
Egypt
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, Amarna Period, reign of Akhenaten, 1351-1334 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0703

This small decorative fragment, of uncertain origin, represents a veritable masterpiece of the
faience-worker’s craft, displaying an extraordinarily broad palette of colours and requiring the most
extraordinary technical skill to produce.

Head of a man
Steatite
Egypt
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, probably reign of Akhenaten, 1351-1334 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0418

This small-scale steatite head, with its shaven pate and non-delineated, sfumato eyes, is
reminiscent of those few rare sculptures produced at the end of the 18th Dynasty during the
Amarna Period, when Egypt suffered under the reign of the later-damned king Akhenaten. The
subject is evidently a private individual—either a priest or an official—and the original whole a
funerary sculpture of the period.

Unfinished head of Amun


Basalt
Egypt, probably Thebes
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, reign of Tutankhamun, 1333-1323 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0008

It is no coincidence that so very many stone sculptures of the Theban god Amun now extant should
carry the facial features of Tutankhamun. With a return to order following the deeply disruptive
reign of Akhenaten, there was much to repair—as Tutankhamun’s famous ‘Restoration Stela’
records. This work included the fashioning of a whole series of new divine images to replace those
which had been the subject of Atenist persecution and smashed beyond repair. Though left
unfinished, presumably because it was accidentally broken in the course of being carved, the
fragmentary Amun head shown here by its style clearly dates from this extraordinary time.

Finger ring
Carnelian
Egypt
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, reign of Tutankhamun, 1333-1323 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0618

This late form of double stirrup-ring is of a type which appears at the very end of the 18th Dynasty,
a dating supported here by the proportions of the tiny image of the goddess Mut, ‘lady of heaven,
mistress of the Two Lands’, which its bezel carries. A rather more famous example of this double-
stirrup type, in discoloured blue glass, is in Berlin, famously inscribed with the conjoint cartouches
of Ay and Tutankhamun’s widow, Ankhesenamun.

Relief with image of Osiris


Limestone
Egypt, possibly Saqqara
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, circa 1335 BC, or later
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0700

The provenance of this fragment of limestone wall-relief is not recorded, and to judge from its
present curious shape the block on which the scene is cut had been removed from its original
setting for reuse at some time in the distant past. The subject-matter of the sunk-relief is Osiris,
lord of the Underworld, ‘[Ruler] of Abydos’—which, combined with the fragmentary reference in the
top line to ‘Anubis who is in his bandages’, seems to indicate that this is a funerary piece removed

14
from a tomb chapel.

Shawabti of Paatenemhat
Wood
Egypt
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, reign of Tutankhamun, 1333-1323 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0328

Although rare, a number of shawabti figures datable to the Amarna or immediate post-Amarna
Periods are known, of which this specimen, inscribed for ‘the Osiris Paatenemhat’, is one of the
finest. Stylistically the piece relates to and seems to be contemporaneous with the series of large
wooden figures discovered by Howard Carter in the tomb of Tutankhamun—specially commissioned
pieces which had been presented to that king’s burial by the high officials Nakhtmin and Maya. As
with the Tutankhamun shawabti, the modelling is exquisite, with the representation of
Paatenemhat’s face clearly influenced by the king’s own features. A further noteworthy indication of
quality is the subtle rippling of the shroud adjacent to the protruding hands, where the elbow pulls
the material taught.

Shawabti of a man
Egyptian alabaster
Egypt
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, probably reign of Tutankhamun-Ay, 1333-1319 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0341

The so-called ‘costume of daily life’ worn by this figure was a common feature of shawabti of late
18th and 19th Dynasty date, and would subsequently be adopted for the ‘reis’ or overseer figures
supplied in the 21st Dynasty to supervise the ordinary, mummiform worker-images. Carved in
Egyptian alabaster, this high-status piece is similar to an example recovered a century ago from
tomb KV58 in the Valley of the Kings, seemingly dated to the period Tutankhamun/Ay.

Shawabti of Mutmutu
Painted limestone
Egypt
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, reign of Ay, 1323-1319 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0570

By the end of the 18th Dynasty, the shawabti figure was commonly shown with hands protruding
from its close-fitting shroud to clutch a pair of wide- and narrow-bladed hoes and one or more
baskets—these latter intended to replace those implements previously supplied separately as
models. Finely carved, the present figure wears a striated tripartite wig and a broad collar.
Horizontal bands of incised hieroglyphic text carry the usual extracts from Chapter 6 of the Book of
the Dead, incorporating the name of the owner—which is apparently to be read ‘Mutmutu’. The style
of this figure—in particular the facial characteristics—is reminiscent of a shawabti in the Museum of
Fine Arts, Boston (1985.707), which is inscribed for an ‘Overseer of Builders of Amun, Neferhotep’.
Ex-collection Lord Amherst of Hackney.

Situla
Alabaster
Egypt
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, or later, after circa 1350 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0022

The form of this miniature alabaster situla, or bucket, dates back to the 18th Dynasty, though it is
of a type which continues in use for several centuries after. Extremely well modelled in Egyptian
alabaster, with sharply angled sides, the original loop handle was of copper-alloy (its corroded
remains are still visible in the suspension lugs on the rim). Vessels of this type (along with the
somewhat more common ‘bag-shaped’ situla, a form usually encountered in bronze) were in general
cultic and votive use, and have been encountered in caches of temple furniture down to Late Period
and Greco-Roman times.

Headrest
Wood

15
Egypt
New Kingdom, 1550-1070/69 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0023

Headrests of wood, with a curved support which was softened in use by the employment of a
feather pillow or some form of linen padding, are commonly encountered in Egyptian tombs from
the Old Kingdom on. Originally placed within the coffin, they were intended to fulfil a ritualistic as
well as a practical function, their protective role during the dangerous, vulnerable hours of sleep
being alluded to both in the Coffin Texts and in the Book of the Dead. The specimen shown here,
undecorated and of a severely practical form, was doubtless employed in daily life and subsequently
carried to the tomb for the owner’s employment in the Beyond.

Relief fragment with the cartouche of Seti I


Egypt, Thebes, Valley of the Kings, tomb of Seti I, KV17
New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty, reign of Seti I, 1290-1279/8 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0595

Shawabti of Seti I
Faience
Egypt, Thebes, Valley of the Kings, tomb of Seti I, KV17
New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty, reign of Seti I, 1290-1279/8 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0308

The burial-place of Seti I, second king of the 19th Dynasty, has for long been one of the most
celebrated tombs in all of Egypt. No. 17 in the Valley of the Kings, it was first discovered on 16
October 1817 by the celebrated Paduan explorer Giovanni Battista Belzoni, digging in the Valley on
behalf of the British Consul-General, Henry Salt. In exquisite condition when first entered, its
coloured wall-reliefs preserved in brilliant, pristine condition, the tomb would suffer considerably
over coming years from visiting scholars and tourists—who quarried the walls to yield souvenirs
such as the cartouche shown here, lit the destruction with smoke-producing torches which
blackened the walls, and made casts of the decoration which stripped off the colours. From the
burial itself (though dismantled in antiquity) a good deal of funerary equipment was still present for
Belzoni to find and—like the present miraculously preserved shawabti figure—carry off in triumph
back to England.

Ring with the prenomen of Ramesses II


Faience
Egypt
New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty, reign of Ramesses II, 1279-1213 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0600

Because of his shameless self-aggrandizement, wilfully carving his cartouches over those of his
predecessors and upon any and all uninscribed architectural surfaces he encountered, Ramesses
II—the poet Shelley’s ‘Ozymandias’—is today one of Egypt’s best known and most celebrated kings.
The flattened cartouche-shaped bezel of this stirrup-shaped ring in green faience carries an incised
hieroglyphic version of his prenomen, ‘Usermaatre’, with epithet. Faience versions of such ‘official’
ring-types (which in precious or base metal were issued by the State to officials required to seal
documents and other items in Pharaoh’s name) are uncommon at this period, and this particular
specimen, in almost perfect condition, is particularly choice.

Shawabti of Khaemwaset
Faience
Egypt
New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty, reign of Ramesses II, 1279-1213 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0314

Shawabti of Any
Faience
Egypt
New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty, 1292-1186/85 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0323

16
Prince Khaemwaset was the antiquarian-minded son of Ramesses II who was responsible for a good
deal of ‘restoration’ work undertaken in the north of Egypt during the 19th Dynasty. Several
shawabti of the man are known. The principal group was discovered by Auguste Mariette in 1851 in
the Serapeum at Saqqara, burial-place of the sacred Apis bulls; on the basis of burial equipment
which had been donated for the burial by Khaemwaset, the poorly preserved remains of the bull
were at one time misidentified as the decomposed mummy of the prince himself. Other shawabti
figures of Khaemwaset (including a number brought to relatively recently) seem similarly to be
votive in character rather than true worker-figures from the man’s tomb, which is still unknown. The
polychrome faience figure displayed alongside was prepared for the deputy Any, a probable
contemporary of Khaemwast, and is notable for its fine polychrome glaze.

Statue of Neferrenpet with a ram-headed altar


Limestone
Egypt, probably Thebes
New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty, 1292-1186/85 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0571

Sculpture of a recognizably Egyptian type appeared at the very dawn of dynastic civilization, and
before very long a wide range of statue-types was in production which, by the time of the New
Kingdom, was further extended to include theophorous—‘god-bearing’—forms such as that
displayed here. The hieroglyphic texts identify the subject of this limestone statuette as
Neferrenpet, an overseer of cattle of the god Amun; while the altar which Neferrenpet proffers is
identified by its inscriptions and by its ram-head (one of Amun’s earthly manifestations) as an
offering made to that god. The dedicator’s wig and costume, which are particularly foppish, suggest
a 19th Dynasty date for the piece.

Stelophorous statue
Basalt
Egypt, probably Memphis
New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty, probably reign of Ramesses II, 1279-1213 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0362

This small and somewhat naively modelled statuette depicts a kneeling official offering a large stela
which is decorated with an image of the god Ptah in high raised relief. Doubtless a votive dedicated
at a temple of Ptah at Memphis, the god’s cult centre, the elaborate clothing and wig suggest a date
early in the 19th Dynasty, perhaps around the time of Ramesses II. No indication is given as to the
dedicator’s identity: this was possibly inscribed upon a separate pedestal, now lost, into which the
sculpture was originally set.

Head of a queen or goddess


Limestone
Egypt
New Kingdom, probably 19th Dynasty, 1292-1186/85 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0493

Without texts specifically identifying the subject of a sculpture it is not always possible to decide
whether an image is intended as that of a god or goddess, or of the actual royal personage whose
features were appropriated as a matter of course for such divine representations. This uninscribed
fragment from the statue of a seated female, shown wearing a plain, close-fitting costume and an
undecorated tripartite wig, could be either a queen or a divinity. The wig is pierced above the brow
to receive a metal (probably bronze) uraeus, while on top of the head are the battered remains of a
tenon intended to locate a separately modelled crown. The piece dates from the New Kingdom, and
most probably the 19th Dynasty.

Statuette of a man
Limestone
Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Medina
New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty, circa 1292-1186/5 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0342

During much of the New Kingdom, the village of Deir el-Medina on the west bank at Thebes was
home to those workers responsible for quarrying, decorating and to a lesser extent stocking the

17
tombs of the pharaohs in the Valley of the Kings, the famous and once extraordinarily rich burial
ground which lay just across the cliffs. This unnamed statuette of a man, shown dressed in his
finery for the Beyond, is executed in the distinctive style encountered among the Deir el-Medina
workers. As surviving texts show, these men frequently employed the skills they had learnt in
pharaoh’s employ on behalf of their fellow villagers, and throughout the 19th and 20th Dynasties
within the settlement there was a brisk trade in such commissioned funerary commodities.

Relief fragment of Amenmesse


Limestone
Egypt, Thebes, ‘Oratory of Ptah’
New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty, reign of Amenmesse, 1202-1200/1199 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0460

This limestone fragment, apparently cut from a rock stela during the first half of the nineteenth
century, carries the cartouched prenomen and nomen of king Seti II of the late 19th Dynasty. The
Seth animal incorporated within the nomen had been hacked out in antiquity, as often, because of
the god’s turbulent associations. A closer examination of the fragment reveals that the Seti II
cartouches are in fact palimpsest over the names of an earlier king, identified as Amenmesse—on
the basis of which the original placement of the fragment has been proposed as either chapel E or G
at the ‘oratory of Ptah’, the name given to a series of rock-cut shrines located on the Theban west
bank between Deir el-Medina and the Valley of the Queens.

Stela of Ipu
Limestone
Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Medina
New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty, reign of Seti II, 1200/1199-1194/93 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0578

Stelae, commonly cut from limestone and (from the Middle Kingdom on) sporting a rounded top as
here, were erected both as offerings to the gods and as memorials to the dead. The present stela
(the original colouring of which is particularly well-preserved) was dedicated to the goddess
Sekhmet on behalf of a man identified in the accompanying hieroglyphic text as ‘guardian of the
lord of the Two Lands in the Place of Truth, Ipu’. The dedicators are two female members of his
family, named as ‘the lady of the house Nakhtmut [and] his [i.e. Ipu’s] sister [i.e. wife] the lady of
the house Muteminet’. As the reference in Ipu’s title to the ‘Place of Truth’ indicates, Ipu was a
member of the Deir el-Medina necropolis workforce charged with quarrying and decorating tombs in
the Valley of the Kings. Other documents from Thebes indicate that the man was alive and active
during the reign of Seti II.

Underworld deity
Gessoed wood
Egypt, Thebes, Valley of the Kings, perhaps tomb of Ramesses IX, KV6
New Kingdom, perhaps 20th Dynasty, reign of Ramesses IX, 1125/21-1107/03 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0579

This extraordinary ibex-headed figure of wood, originally covered with gesso and coloured paint and
representing one of the more obscure deities of the Underworld, is of an exceptionally rare type
found at only one site in Egypt—the Valley of the Kings. The findspot of the piece is sadly not
recorded, but a provenance may perhaps be ventured. Several series of such figures are known,
from the tombs of Amenhotep II, Thutmose IV, Tutankhamun, Horemheb, Ramesses I, Seti I and
Ramesses IX—and of these images the characteristics of only the last group, now in the British
Museum, match the physical make-up of the Chiddingstone specimen.

Third Intermediate Period

Overseer shawabti of Duathathor-Henttawy


Faience
Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri royal cache, tomb DB320
Third Intermediate Period, 21st Dynasty, circa 1000 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0282

Cup of Neskhons

18
Faience
Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri royal cache, tomb DB320
Third Intermediate Period, 21st Dynasty, circa 1000 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0409

The famous ‘first cache’ of royal mummies and high priests and their families at Deir el-Bahri was
brought to the attention of the Antiquities Service in 1881 after several years of uncontrolled
exploitation of the find by Theban locals. Egyptologists had been alerted to the discovery by the
appearance, on the Luxor and Cairo antiquities markets, of a mass of faience objects which could
only have come from a tomb. These included shawabti-figures like that seen here, prepared for the
lady Duathathor-Henttawy, wife of the high priest of Amun Painedjem I, and other funerary items
including a series of blue faience cups from the burial of the lady Neskhons, chief of the harem of
Amun and wife of Amun’s high priest, Painedjem II. The colour of such brilliantly glazed wares is
now universally known as ‘Deir el-Bahri blue’.

Couchant Anubis jackal


Painted wood
Egypt
Third Intermediate Period, 21st Dynasty, 1070/69-946/5 BC, or later
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0576

The most frequently encountered form of Anubis, the ever-alert guardian of the necropolis and
protector of the secrets of the mummification process, is that of a couchant black jackal or dog. In a
funerary context, figures of the creature (with the tail shown hanging vertically rather than lying
horizontally as it is incorrectly restored here) are first encountered during the New Kingdom, the
finest and most famous example now in existence being that surmounting king Tutankhamun’s
shawabti shrine. Thereafter, during the Third Intermediate Period and later, more modest examples
of the animal become a common decorative element of private coffins and wooden funerary boxes.

Fingerring with the prenomen of Thutmose IV


Faience
Egypt, probably Thebes
Third Intermediate Period, 21st Dynasty, 1070/69-946/45 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0615

The name carried by this faience finger ring, with its grossly expanded bezel, is that of Thutmose
IV, eighth pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty. The ring itself, however, is of a type which was in vogue
much later, during the Third Intermediate Period and particularly under the 21st Dynasty. Clearly a
commemorative piece, one possible explanation is that the ring had been produced for an official of
Thutmose IV’s Theban mortuary temple—which would in turn indicate that this establishment was
still in operation three centuries after the king’s death.

Model amuletic decree case


Faience
Egypt
Third Intermediate Period, 22nd Dynasty, 946/5-736 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0262

This unusual amulet replicates in solid faience a (precious) metal case intended to contain an
amuletic ‘decree’ or oracle uttered by a god or goddess, which would be worn around the neck as a
potent charm to avert danger. The solar-crowned bust modelled on the top is that of Sekhmet, ‘The
Powerful One’, daughter of the sun-god Re—a divinity whose cult centre was at Memphis, where she
was consort of the god Ptah. The incised hieroglyphic inscription down the front is an invocation to
the goddess Mut, divine partner of Amun of Thebes, here described as ‘lady of divine writings’.

Pendant with triad of Isis, Horus and Osiris


Faience
Egypt
Third Intermediate Period, 22nd Dynasty, 946/5-736 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0161

Isis and Horus pendant

19
Faience
Egypt
Third Intermediate Period, 22nd Dynasty, 946/5-736 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0201

Isis was the mythic sister and wife of Osiris—the god murdered by his anarchic brother, Seth, and
revived by his widow to beget a child, Horus, who would in time challenge Seth for his father’s
inheritance. Images of the divine mother and Horus child, occasionally in the presence of the dead
Osiris, represented for the Egyptians a powerful literary and artistic motif. These present two
images may be dated to the Third Intermediate Period both by the modelling and by the colour of
the glaze. They doubtless functioned as funerary amulets, wrapped in with the bandages of the
dead to transfer, by magical means, the protection afforded the young Horus to the deceased at the
critical moment of his or her transition to new life.

Bes figure
Faience
Egypt
Third Intermediate Period, 22nd Dynasty, 946/5-736 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0403

Bes amulet
Faience
Egypt
Third Intermediate Period, 22nd Dynasty, 946/5-736 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0243

Bes amulet
Faience
Egypt
Third Intermediate Period, 22nd Dynasty, 946/5-736 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0559

The domestic protector-god Bes—regularly shown dwarf-like, lion-faced and -tailed and wearing a
multi-plumed crown—was an exceedingly popular subject for amulets and larger figures during the
late second and first millennia BC, and examples today, in a range of different materials and
qualities, may be found in all collections. The god owed this popularity to his perceived efficacy—by
virtue of his ugliness—as a creature of frightening aspect able to ward off evil during childbirth.

Bastet
Bronze
Egypt
Third Intermediate Period, 22nd Dynasty, 946/5-736 BC, or later
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0351

Worship of the cat-headed goddess Bastet reached its apogee under the 22nd Dynasty of kings
ruling from Bubastis (the name of which translates as ‘Place of the goddess Bastet’) in the eastern
Delta. Votive images of the goddess were produced in their thousands for offering at shrines of the
goddess located up and down the country. The ex voto displayed here was cast in bronze by the cire
perdue or ‘lost wax’ method, and represents the goddess standing holding an aegis in her left hand
and her right raised to grasp a sistrum, or ritual rattle (now missing), of a type shown elsewhere in
this exhibition.

Standing Bastet amulet


Faience
Egypt
Third Intermediate Period, 22nd Dynasty, 946/5-736 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0246

Standing Bastet amulet


Faience
Egypt
Third Intermediate Period, 22nd Dynasty, 946/5-736 BC

20
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0271

Seated Bastet amulet playing lyre


Faience
Egypt
Third Intermediate Period, 22nd Dynasty, 946/5-736 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0275

These three faience amulets (or small ex votos) are moulded in faience as images of the cat
goddess Bastet. Like most examples of the type, they date from the 22nd Dynasty when the
popularity of the goddess was at an all-time high. Her cult centre was located at Bubastis—‘The
Place of Bastet’—in the Delta, home of the kings of the 22nd Dynasty who for political and economic
reasons sought to promote her worship throughout the country.

Mould for a menit


Terracotta
Egypt
Third Intermediate Period, 22nd Dynasty, 946/5-736 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0089

The counterpoise, or menit, worn from earliest times behind the neck to balance the weight of the
traditional Egyptian broad collar, had by the Middle Kingdom become an object of veneration in its
own right, closely associated with the worship of the goddess Hathor and with the funerary cult.
Several menit have been preserved to us, the majority moulded in faience to be offered as votives
at temple sites such as Deir el-Bahri, Serabit el-Khadim and Timna. The present item is a rare
mould for the production of a variant type of such counterpoises, its Hathor-aegis design typical of
work produced during the middle years of the Third Intermediate Period.

Djed amulet with atef-crown


Faience
Egypt
Third Intermediate Period, 22nd Dynasty, 956/5-736 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0196

There has been much speculation by modern scholars on the origins of the djed-pillar, but by the
New Kingdom it is clear that it had come to be identified in the Egyptian mind as the backbone of
the god Osiris. The symbol’s connotations were held to be those of stability and endurance—
qualities the amulet was intended magically to confer on the deceased, among whose wrappings it
was so frequently placed. The addition here of an atef-crown serves to emphasize the amulet’s
Osirian associations and, doubtless, its efficacy.

Set of amulets
Faience
Egypt
Third Intermediate Period, 22nd Dynasty-Late Period, 26th Dynasty, 946/5-525 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0627-01.0633, 01.2812

This set of faience funerary amulets was intended to provide powerful protection for the deceased
whose mummy it embellished. It consists of paired collar-terminals of the sun-god Re, the solar
scarab spreading its wings protectively across the breast, and miniature images of the four sons of
Horus (Duamutef, Hapy, Imsety and Qebehsenuef), intended to safeguard the stomach, lungs, liver
and intestines (which were at this period frequently replaced within the body cavity rather than
stored separately in a set of canopic jars). The tubular beads may have formed part of the net
within which such amulets were generally strung. The beads and amulets were evidently attached to
their present mummy-cloth background around the end of the nineteenth century.

Late Period

Mummy mask and two-fingers amulet


Gilded cartonnage and gold
Egypt, Thebes
Late Period, 25th Dynasty, before 746-655 BC

21
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2883

Masks of this peculiarly small type are far from common, but seem first to occur under the Middle
Kingdom, tied in place over the face of the fully wrapped mummy. The type is found again much
later, at Nuri and in the southern cemetery at Meroe, in high-status burials of the 7th century BC.
The Nubian specimens are in silver; this 25th Dynasty or later Egyptian example is made of gilded
cartonnage—a linen, glue and plaster version of papier mâché. The mask is mounted in its original
nineteenth century Egyptianizing wooden display case, together with a gold foil two-fingers amulet
doubtless recovered from the mummy. Ex-collection Viscount Castlereagh

Stela of Takheby
Gessoed and painted wood
Egypt, probably Thebes
Late Period, 25th-26th Dynasty, 746-525 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0026

Wood was always a rare and valuable commodity in Egypt, and before the 22nd Dynasty it was
used only infrequently for funerary inscriptions. The first millennium BC witnessed a marked
increase in the employment of wooden tomb stelae, with scenes and inscriptions executed not on
the raw surface but in paint on a delicate gesso-plaster ground. Of these fragile stelae (the majority
originating from Thebes), a fair number have come down to us, contributing significantly to our
understanding of the later Third Intermediate Period and Late Period and the genealogies of these
times. This particular stela was prepared for the burial of a lady musician of the cult of Amun-Re
called Takheby, who is named as daughter of the god’s father Meryhorpareenaatu and the lady of
the house Tadihorpakhered.

Pyramidion of Psamtek and Nesmut(?)


Limestone
Egypt, Abydos
Late Period, 26th Dynasty, 664-525 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0574

Pyramidion of Horwedja
Limestone
Egypt
Late Period, 26th Dynasty, 664-525 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2880

At Thebes, pyramidions like this were normally positioned on top of miniature mud-brick pyramids
(modelled after their rather larger Giza prototypes) of a type erected above some classes of private
tomb from the 18th Dynasty on. The two specimens displayed here both date from the Late Period,
and more specifically from the 26th Dynasty. From the titles borne by its owners, the first was
originally set up at Abydos in the precincts of Osiris-Khentiamentiu. This piece, inscribed for a priest
of Osiris in Abydos named Psamtek, is fully decorated on all four faces with: (1) an image of
Psamtek shown kneeling with arms raised in adoration, beneath an image of Anubis; (2) an image
of the man’s wife, the sistrum-player of Khentiamentiu, Nesmut, similarly shown with arms raised in
adoration beneath an image of Anubis; (3) four baboons welcoming the rising sun; and (4) the god
Shu beneath the setting sun. A good deal of the original paint is preserved. The smaller pyramidion,
inscribed for Horwedja, son of Padikhonsu born of Nesmut, is carved on one face only; the cutting
was clearly abandoned unfinished, with the design perhaps completed in paint, traces of which
remain.

Double-pipe player amulet


Faience
Egypt
Late Period, 25th Dynasty, 664-525 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0522

This small, green-glazed faience amulet is of rare and unusual type, representing a naked male
figure with wild, centrally parted hair, shown squatting on a stool and apparently playing (or
preparing to play) twin pipes. The green glaze and reeded suspension loop on the back suggest a
25th Dynasty date for the piece.

22
Baboon of Thoth
Faience
Egypt
Late Period, 26th Dynasty, 664-525 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0407

Baboon amulet
Faience
Egypt
Third Intermediate Period, 22nd Dynasty, 946/5-736 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0514

Thoth was the divine patron of learning, and images of the god in his manifestation as a baboon are
commonly encountered in a scribal context—presumably to receive the writer’s offerings and inspire
his written words. Thoth’s lunar associations were also celebrated through such images. The larger
of the two faience baboon figures shown here is particularly well-modelled and may have been
produced as an ex voto image of the god offered at a shrine; the smaller figure of the god is equally
charmingly rendered, and, to judge from its small size, more personally amuletic in character.

Isis suckling the infant Horus


Steatite
Egypt
Late Period, 664-332 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0360

Head of a goddess, probably Isis


Feldpar
Egypt
Late Period, 26th Dynasty, 664-525 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0429

Isis suckling the infant Horus


Bronze
Egypt
Late Period, 664-332 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0392

Above all else, the goddess Isis represented those wifely and motherly virtues the Egyptians held
most dear. She was the mythic sister-wife of Osiris, who was murdered by his anarchic brother Seth
only to be revived by his widow to beget a child, Horus, who would in time challenge Seth for his
father’s inheritance. As the mother of Horus, Isis was also the mother of pharaoh and thus the
guarantor of the royal succession. Always a goddess of importance in Egypt, from the first
millennium BC on her cult was especially popular, spreading in Roman times throughout the empire,
so that images of her, both personal and votive, are frequently encountered in a range of materials
in a number of contexts. The goddess par excellence, Isis lactans is seen by some as a natural
prototype for the Christian image of the Madonna and Child.

Shawabti of Horwedja
Faience
Egypt
New Kingdom, 26th Dynasty, 664-525 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0320

The 26th Dynasty owner of this shawabti was a prophet of the goddess Neith named Horwedja,
born of Shedet, whose tomb was discovered at Hawara in 1890 by Flinders Petrie. The principal
booty from the burial were two boxed groups of large and finely modelled faience shawabti figures
inscribed for Horwedja; the second of these groups the excavator was obliged to recover from the
waterlogged tomb with his bare feet. All the shawabti were of the same general form, inscribed with
the usual extracts from Chapter 6 of the Book of the Dead and ranging in height from 16-24 cm.
Because of their waterlogged findspot, the glaze of almost all within the series had perished.

23
Shawabti of Psamtik, good name Ahmose
Faience
Egypt
Late Period, 30th Dynasty(?), 380-342 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0340

Though finely modelled in common with other shawabti from this man’s tomb, the glaze has
deteriorated to a matte green, presumably as a result of damp. The eight horizontal bands of text
carry the usual spell from Book of the Dead chapter 6, and the owner’s name: Psamtik, ‘good name’
Ahmose (Amosis)—a direct reference to the two principal rulers of the 26th Dynasty. The name of
the man’s mother is also recorded: Bastetirdis. The findspot of Psamtik’s shawabti are not recorded,
but the likelihood is that he was a northerner and possessed a tomb in the vast necropolis at
Saqqara.

Fragmentary image of Osiris


Silver
Egypt
Late Period, probably 26th Dynasty, 664-525 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0546

Sekhmet amulet
Silver
Egypt
Third Intermediate Period, probably 22nd Dynasty, 946/5-736 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0548

This fragmentary image of Osiris, lord of the Underworld, was probably cast as a temple votive, and
to judge from its classic style it dates from the Late Period and most probably the 26th Dynasty. Its
companion figure, an amuletic representation of the lioness-headed solar goddess Sekhmet, is
perhaps somewhat earlier in date. The material of both figures is silver which, before the New
Kingdom, had been a rarer and more precious commodity than gold. Because of their recyclable
value, amulets and ex votos of precious metal are today far from common.

Mask of the goddess Bat


Faience
Egypt
Late Period, 26th Dynasty, 664-332 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0411

Votive sistrum
Bronze
Egypt
Roman Period, 30 BC-AD 395
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2888

The sistrum was a ritualistic rattle, called in Egyptian seshseshet—an onomatopoeic word evoking
not only the noise made by the instrument itself but also the rustling of Hathor, the cow-goddess
associated with love and music, as she pushed her way through the reed beds of the Delta marshes.
The first item displayed here is a fragment which originally decorated the focal point of the sistrum
at the juncture between handle and jangles: a mask of the goddess Bat, a manifestation of Hathor.
The second item, which except for its metal crossbars and loose metal jangles has survived virtually
complete, displays a similar Bat mask and a handle which takes the form of a dancing Bes figure.

New Year’s flask


Faience
Egypt
Late Period, 26th Dynasty, reigns of Apries-Amosis II, 589-526 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0049

The precise purpose of these Late Period flasks has not been scientifically established, but the
likelihood is that they were used to contain as gifts celebratory waters collected during the annual
rising of the Nile—for the Egyptians, the start of the New Year. Most examples seem to have been

24
produced at the end of the 26th Dynasty, under Apries and Amosis II. In this particular example,
beneath the stylized garlands on the vessel’s outer face, is inscribed the usual wish for the opening
of a good year and an invocation to the Memphite city god Ptah. The rim and handles are restored.

Head of an official
Greywacke
Egypt
Late Period, 26th Dynasty, reign of Amosis II, 570-526 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0004

The modelling of this head, broken from a standing figure of an Egyptian official, is accomplished
but understated, the work of a skilful artisan. The narrow, almost feline eyes and high cheek bones
suggest a date of manufacture under the 26th Dynasty, influenced by sculpture of the reign of
Amosis II. The dorsal pillar preserves a single hieroglyph, apparently the opening of the so-called
‘Saite Formula’ (which continued well into the Ptolemaic Period)—a short text addressing the local
deity on behalf of the person represented.

Head of a man
Limestone
Egypt
Late Period, 26th Dynasty, reign of Psamtek II, 595-589 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0455

Large scale stone sculpture of Late Period date is not at all common, and pieces in limestone of this
scale and quality are rare. A temple statue sculpted in archaising, Old Kingdom style, when
complete (to judge from the positioning of the arms) it will have been represented in traditional
striding pose holding in front a naos or god’s image. The dorsal pillar is inscribed with two columns
of well-cut hieroglyphs which identify the owner as one Nakhthorheb, director of temples of Neith.
The surface condition reveals that the sculpture was at some stage subjected to burning, clearly
after it had been broken.

Head of a woman
Limestone
Egypt
Late Period, 26th Dynasty-Ptolemaic Period, 664-30 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0421

The ‘bob’—a style enclosing the head like a cap before bulging out over the ears—sported by this
small head from a standing or striding statuette of a high-ranking woman (a princess or priestess) is
suggestive of a Late or early Ptolemaic Period date. The plain rather than echeloned surface perhaps
supports an earlier rather than a later dating for the piece

Head of Neith
Greywacke
Egypt
Late Period, 26th Dynasty, 664-525 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0427

The date of this head is revealed by the material in which it is carved, while its subject—the creator-
goddess Neith—is firmly identified by the distinctive crown the head is shown as wearing. The
fragment without doubt originates form a sculpture dedicated in the precincts of the temple of Neith
at the goddess’s cult-centre, Sais, in the western Delta, home of the 26th Dynasty. Whether the
head originally formed part of a small, freestanding image of Neith or a detail from a larger,
theophorous sculpture of a private donor is unclear.

Scaraboid
Green jasper and silver
Egypt
Late Period, 26th Dynasty, 664-525 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0613

This extremely fine, green jasper gemstone in antiquity formed the bezel of a swivel ring, and

25
fragments of the original, now badly corroded silver mount still remain. The back of the piece
carries a finely cut face in relief of the goddess Bat-Hathor, while the base carries an elegantly
incised hieroglyphic inscription which has not yet been read.

Figure of Thoth
Faience
Egypt
Late Period, 26th Dynasty, 664-525 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0433

Amulet of Thoth
Lapis lazuli
Egypt
Late Period, 26th Dynasty, 664-525 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0529

These two images of Thoth both depict the god in ibis-headed, anthropomorphic form, naked except
for a kilt and striated wig. The larger of the two figures, modelled in faience, would from its size
appear to be a temple votive; the smaller, in lapis lazuli imported from the mines of distant
Badakhshan in modern-day Afghanistan, is a funerary amulet of a type normally found wrapped in
with the bandages of the mummy.

Isis-Nephthys-Horus triad
Faience
Egypt
Late Period, 26th Dynasty, 664-525 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0255

Under the 26th Dynasty the amulets placed within the wrappings of the well-to-do during the course
of the mummification ritual became very much standardized, frequently produced in faience from
moulds and in some quantity. This flat-backed faience triad amulet is particularly characteristic of
the period, well-modelled and showing the god Horus as a child (Harpocrates) flanked by his mother
Isis and her sister Nephthys—the two goddesses who protected the boy-god until he was old
enough to avenge his father and claim the throne of Egypt in his own right.

Statuette of Osiris
Limestone
Egypt
Late Period, 26th Dynasty, circa 664-525 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0494

Statuette of Osiris
Bronze
Egypt
Late Period, 26th Dynasty, circa 664-525 BC, or earlier
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0390

Statuette of Osiris
Bronze
Egypt
Late Period, 26th Dynasty, circa 664-525 BC, or later
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0401

Osiris was a complex deity who possessed an essentially dual role in the religion of ancient Egypt.
Perhaps originally worshipped as a god of fertility, the god gradually accrued to himself, by
assimilation with various local gods such as Andjety and Khentiamentiu, the trappings of mummified
god-king, ruler of the Underworld and lord of resurrection. In time the king, who was in life the
embodiment of Horus, became in death equated with Osiris—an identification later extended to all
Egyptians, bestowing for the first time the opportunity for an independent existence in the Next
World. The development ensured for Osiris a timeless and unbounded popularity which is reflected
in the numerous votive images of the god today extant in a variety of stones and metals.

26
Block statue of Paftjaennet
Granite
Egypt, Sais
Late Period, 26th Dynasty, 664-525 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0572

The abstracted ‘block statue’ form first appeared in Egyptian art during the 12th Dynasty, and
became a standard type employed for years to come, in both temple and funerary contexts,
produced in a range of hard and soft stones. As in the case of the present 26th Dynasty example
(with its distinctive, narrow, closely set eyes and high cheek bones), identifying texts are commonly
found, both down the back pillar and upon the front of the sculpture’s knees. The hieroglyphic
inscriptions identify the owner as one Paftjaennet, and the place of dedication as Sais in the Delta.

Theophorous statue
Greywacke
Egypt
Late Period, 26th Dynasty, 664-525 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0459

Theophorous statue fragment of Pahetjer


Greywacke
Egypt, Sais
Late Period, 26th Dynasty, 664-525 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0573

This particular type of theophorous (‘god-bearing’) sculpture, in which a striding male figure
presents an image of Osiris, is one of common occurrence during the 26th Dynasty, particularly in
greywacke. Although the proportions of the intact specimen are less than perfect, the sculptured
details clearly attest to its authenticity. The statue is uninscribed, and in consequence the name of
the dedicator and place of dedication are unknown. The fragmentary statue is a far more
accomplished piece, with extensive hieroglyphic texts from which it may be established that the
owner and dedicator was a royal scribe named Pahetjer, son of Paftjaennet and the sistrum-player
of Neith, mistress of Sais, Istemkheb.

Figure vessel
Alabaster
Egypt, probably Naukratis and the temenos of Aphrodite
Late Period, 26th Dynasty or later, after 664 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0037

Anthropomorphic vessels were popular at various periods of Egyptian history, and never more so
than during the 18th Dynasty. The greater number of these early ‘figure vases’ are modelled in clay,
with the predominant subject-matter female and related to the suckling of children. Stone versions
of such vessels are rare before the Late Period, to which era the present vessel, from its basic
alabastron form, evidently dates. Close, excavated parallels were recovered by Petrie from the
sanctuary of Aphrodite at Naukratis in the western Delta, a Greek trading settlement famous from
the writings of Herodotus. Like its 18th Dynasty forebears, this too, with the hands supporting the
breasts, presents an obvious maternal theme.

Stela of Gemhapi
Limestone
Egypt
Late Period, 26th Dynasty, or later, after 664 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2881

A typical funerary stela, this round-topped block of indurated limestone is smoothed on one face
and carved in a very basic sunk relief with a winged solar disc and, below, opposed Anubis animals
with sekhem sceptres and a rayed sun between. Beneath this lunette are two vignettes, arranged
side by side: one showing the owner, Gemhapi, in adoration of the sun god, Re-Harakhte, the other
with the same man adoring the solar barque and its divine occupants. Beneath are nine lines of
hieroglyphic text, reading right to left and containing a prayer addressed to the sun god. In both
material and style the stela (which was formerly in the collection of the Reverend William

27
MacGregor, dispersed at Sotheby’s in 1922) is similar to specimens recovered from the site of
Akhmim in Upper Egypt at the end of the 19th century.

Imhotep
Bronze
Egypt
Late Period, 664-332 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0355

Votive statuette of Osiris-Iah


Bronze
Egypt
Late Period, 664-332 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0400

The first of the two seated bronze figures shown here, with a papyrus unrolled on his lap, is
Imhotep, the deified vizier of king Djoser of the 3rd Dynasty, best known today as the architect of
Djoser’s Step Pyramid at Saqqara, the world’s first large-scale building in stone. Imhotep would be
remembered less as an architect, however, than as a sage, with scribes habitually pouring a libation
to his memory before they began to write; in more recent antiquity he was revered as a healer-
magician, the son of Ptah, and identified by the Greeks with Asklepios. The second image is
identified by the crude hieroglyphic text chased in the sides of the base as an image of Osiris-Iah—a
lunar manifestation of the Underworld deity. Both bronzes were prepared for dedication at shrines of
the respective gods by pilgrims seeking divine favour.

Head of a king
Limestone
Egypt
Late Period, 30th Dynasty, 380-342 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0363

Head of a king
Plaster
Egypt
Early Ptolemaic Period, 323-30 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0010

The two pieces displayed here are of a type generally described as ‘trial-pieces’, many of which will
indeed have been executed during the course of an artist’s training but with an equal number
doubtless produced as temple votives. Most specimens of the class date from the first millennium
BC. The first and finer of the two is a small and extremely well-modelled head of a king, shown
wearing the so-called ‘blue crown’. Although the double loop to the uraeus and the sculpture’s
archaisms have been suggested as characteristics of the 30th Dynasty, these same features recur
during the reigns of Ptolemy VIII-X in the 2nd century BC. The second head, moulded in gypsum
from an original carving, is a rather more generic representation of a king of the Ptolemaic era,
shown wearing the nemes headcloth.

Greco-Roman Period

Head of Alexander the Great(?)


Terracotta
Egypt
Greco-Roman Period, after 323 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0014

This small terracotta head, broken from a larger figure which was perhaps cultic in function,
represents a king wearing the nemes headcloth with a uraeus on the brow. Finely modelled, the
piece clearly dates from Greco-Roman times, and in all probability from the late Hellenistic Period—
in which case its handsome, clean-shaven subject is likely to be intended as a representation of
Alexander the Great. Throughout Egyptian history, royal portraiture played an important role in
defining and expressing the character of kingship, filling the (often awesome) gap between reality
and the ideal—reflecting not only the way in which the king wished to be seen, but the way in which

28
his subjects wished to see him.

Mummified cat
Organic
Egypt
Greco-Roman Period, circa 150 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0488

The ancient Egyptian predilection for preserving the dead extended, particularly during the latter
stages of its civilization, beyond the human into the animal realm. Specially bred and raised by the
priests for dedication at the shrine of the god who was immanent within a particular creature, the
range of ‘victims’ was extensive: from scarab beetles to crocodiles, shrew-mice to lions. Cat
mummies, carefully bandaged and often contained within elegant feline coffins, strike a particular
chord in today’s cat-loving culture. They are encountered still, in their thousands, in vast
subterranean galleries in several parts of Egypt.

Divine falcon
Gessoed and painted wood
Egypt
Ptolemaic Period, 323-30 BC, or earlier
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0359

Divine falcon
Gessoed and painted wood
Egypt
Ptolemaic Period, 323-30 BC, or earlier
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0577

Divine falcon
Gilded wood
Egypt
Roman Period, circa AD 50
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0502

These two mummiform falcons and the later and more rudimentarily lifelike specimen with its solar
disc are of a type usually found mounted on the vaulted lids of rectangular, shrine-shaped coffins
and funerary boxes of Greco-Roman times. They represent images of the funerary deity Sokar, lord
of Rostau (the entrance to the Underworld). Sokar was the preeminent god of the Memphite
necropolis and closely associated with the creator-god Ptah, though in practice such falcon images
are found in a funerary context throughout Egypt. The two mummiform specimens are carved in
wood with applied gesso surface and painted decoration, the solar-crowned version in gilded wood.

Head of Harpocrates
Glazed steatite
Egypt
Ptolemaic Period, 332-30 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0420

In anticipation of his future victory in combat against the god Seth, and the assumption of his
father’s lost throne, the god Harpocrates (‘Horus the child’) here wears the double crown of Upper
and Lower Egypt with uraeus. Symbolic of his youth is the sidelock affixed to the headpiece (this
lock now broken away), and the finger held up to the mouth. This competently carved head
(perhaps broken from a larger composition which depicted the young god seated on Isis’s lap to be
suckled), though it is on a very much smaller scale, is reminiscent of a famous physkon (obese)
head in Brussels which is generally acknowledged to be a representation of Ptolemy VIII Euergetes
II.

Head of a queen
Imperial porphyry
Egypt
Roman Period, 2nd century AD, copying an original of the 1st century BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2884

29
The dating of this fine head sculpted in rare imperial porphyry has for long been problematic. The
puzzle seems now to have been resolved by recognizing it as a Roman copy (which the material
would surely indicate) of a Ptolemaic original. The subject is an idealizing queen-type, represented
wearing a plain tripartite wig with uraeus and originally sporting inlaid eyes (roughly prized out in
antiquity for the sake of their copper surrounds). The closest parallel to the ovoid face and pursed
mouth of this piece is a late Ptolemaic Tutu sphinx in the Metropolitan of Art in New York, generally
dated to the 1st century BC.

Headpiece from a mummy


Gilded cartonnage
Egypt
Ptolemaic Period, 332-30 BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2887

As the Coffin Texts and later Book of the Dead make clear, the preservation of the head was a
matter of prime concern to the ancient Egyptians, and headpieces such as this were placed over the
face to provide both a physical and a magical protection. This particular mummy mask, prepared for
an unknown individual of the late Ptolemaic Period, represents the deceased in transfigured state
with skin of shining gold appropriate to his new existence as a divine being. Though expensive
looking, the material from which such non-royal headpieces were prepared was relatively modest,
consisting of alternating layers of glued linen (as here) or papyrus moulded around a form to
produce a material akin to papier mâché suitable for painting, gilding and even inlay.

Harpocrates amulet
Silver
Egypt
Roman Period, 2nd century BC
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0547

This exquisite little image of the god Harpocrates, shown standing and naked except for a miniature
pschent (crown of Upper and Lower Egypt), holds his right forefinger to his mouth in a characteristic
childlike manner; his left hand supports an enormous cornucopia, while a dog is seated at his feet.
Produced by the cire perdue or ‘lost wax’ technique, the amulet (though it may conceivably have
been produced as a votive offering) is cast solid.

Bes tile
Faience
Egypt
Roman Period, circa AD 50
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0013

This architectural tile, or appliqué, is very similar to a specimen in the Myers Collection at Eton
College, which remains set in its original, rectangular wooden mount. The modelling and rough,
sugary surface of the glaze on this and the Eton specimen clearly identify them as products of
Roman times. Most likely they served as a protective or iconic device set into the wall of a building
where the god was invoked—whether a private domestic dwelling, a ‘birthing room’, or a dedicated
chamber within a formal temple complex where the oracle of the god might be consulted.

Phallic figurine
Limestone
Egypt
Greco-Roman Period, 332 BC-AD 395
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0034

Pudendum amulet
Faience
Egypt
Roman Period, 30 BC-AD 395
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2814

Though so-called ‘erotic’ figurines and amulets appear in the archaeological record from the New

30
Kingdom on (particularly at settlement sites such as Deir el-Medina), the class proved most popular
during later periods of Egyptian history. The role of such representations appears to have been one
less of titillation—though it is clear that the humorous aspects of the genre were not lost on the
ancients—than of amuletic functionality as objects which, by the form of their depiction, would
guarantee fertility and an active and richly procreative sexual life. In a culture where a contented
survival in old age depended on the support of one’s offspring, the importance of a large and
healthy family can be easily grasped.

JAPAN

Kofun Period

Bujin haniwa
Pottery
Japan
Kofun Period, 6th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1026

Miko haniwa
Pottery
Japan
Kofun Period, 6th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1027

Bujin haniwa
Pottery
Japan
Kofun Period, 6th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1028

By their style, these three terracotta funerary images originate from the Eastern Kanto region of
Japan (around Tokyo) and date from the latter half of the 6th century AD. The two helmeted male
figures—one about to draw a sword, the other standing with hands on hips—represent warriors
(bujin); the figure with one arm upraised (originally to hold a bowl, now missing) is a miko, or
shrine maiden, with hair arranged in mizura fashion. Collectively known as haniwa, sculptures of
this sort were produced as exterior decoration for the slopes or perimeters of the great mounded
tombs (kofun) which were constructed for Japan’s elite from the 4th to the 7th centuries. The basic
form was a simple clay cylinder (of the sort which gives this class of object its name—haniwa means
literally ‘clay ring’), but more complex forms are also found: warriors and maidens, as here, as well
as animals, houses and military, ceremonial and domestic objects.

Muromachi Period

Long sword (katana)


Steel blade, gold habaki
Japan
Koto blade, purportedly Heian Period, 1058-64, habaki Edo Period, 18th-19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest, 01.0660

This interesting old sword blade—with its distinctive ayasugi hada, or undulating grain—has been
reduced in length at some stage during its long career, with the inscription removed and set into a
higher section of the cut-down tang (gaku-mei). The characters are worn, but the name ‘Gassan’
can just about be made out, positioned adjacent to what appears to be a date in Kohei Era—1058-
64. Although the Gassan smiths of Dewa province (modern Akita and Yamagata prefectures) are
recorded in a number of old accounts as tracing back their lineage to Heian times, little credence is
usually given to the claim since—other than this specimen—no dated swords of the school remotely
that old are known. The high quality habaki, or blade-collar, is later and decorated on both sides
with one and two monkeys at play on branches. Its material is gold—appropriate to a sword of this
purported age and significance.

Long sword (katana)

31
Steel blade, lacquer scabbard with soft-metal fittings
Japan
Koto blade, Muromachi Period, 16th century or earlier, mounting Edo Period, 17th-19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0664

The Japanese sword (nihonto) represents the summit of cutting technology, with complex,
traditional methods of forging and shaping combining with a sophisticated surface finish to produce
a weapon which not only performs with great efficiency but attains an incomparable beauty. In the
traditional Japanese psyche the sword came to occupy a position of great spiritual significance, to
become the veritable ‘soul of the samurai’—and fortunes were lavished on both blade and mounting
(koshirae), with understated elegance considered the ideal. This fine Edo Period koshirae is
distinguished by a spirally decorated red-lacquer scabbard (saya), and a leather-wrapped tsuka
(grip) with unsigned, Omori-style fittings of shakudo (gold-copper alloy) decorated in characteristic
wave design with gold spray. The katana blade is slightly shortened (kiri) from its original length,
but retains its two-character signature, ‘Iyeyoshi’—a name borne by several 13th-16th century
swordsmiths.

Long sword (katana)


Steel blade, lacquer scabbard with soft-metal fittings
Japan
Koto blade, Muromachi Period, 15th century, mounting Edo Period, 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0659

Sword stand
Lacquer
Japan
Edo Period, 18th-19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2027

The mounting of this fine sword is embellished with gilded shakudo (copper-gold alloy) fittings
which take as their theme decorative thread balls (ito mari), together with a shakudo guard (tsuba)
pierced with mitsu-tomoe mon (triple-comma crests). The blade itself has been shortened from its
original length, and any original signature which may once have been present is lost. What the
blade does carry, however, is a later attribution in gold inlay (kinzogan), made by a sword expert—
two characters in sosho (cursive) script which read ‘Aoe’. This reference is to the Aoe school of
Bitchu province, the later products of which, during the Muromachi Period, were swords with suguha
(straight) hamon (temper line) similar to that exhibited here. The mounting is displayed on a good
quality, Edo Period sword stand (katana-kake) decorated with a take (bamboo) design which
perhaps references the owner’s mon (family crest).

Short sword (o-tanto)


Steel blade, lacquer scabbard and fittings
Japan
Koto blade, Muromachi Period, 16th century, mounting Edo Period, 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2823

As so often with Japanese swords, the blade is very much older than the mounting which
accompanies it—good swords generally being treasured as heirlooms and handed down over
generations. The present o-tanto¬ (large dagger), with a dramatic, billowing hamon (temper line),
dates from the late Muromachi Period—the so-called Sengoku-jidai, ‘Age of Battles’, when many
weapons of this style were produced. The signature is partly cut through by the mounting hole, but
appears to be that of Kanemasu, one of a number of smiths active during the 15th and 16th
centuries. The mounting presents an extraordinarily rich effect, with saya (scabbard) and fittings
strewn with wisteria branches and blossoms in takamaki-e (raised lacquer) and shell inlay on a
ground of powdered shell in lacquer suspension.

Long sword (tachi)


Steel blade, lacquer scabbard and soft-metal fittings
Koto blade, Muromachi Period, 14th-15th century, mounting Edo Period, probably 19th century
Japan
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0651

32
The mounting shown here, which probably dates from the 19th century, is that of a ceremonial
hosodachi (narrow, suspended sword), lacquered in gold nashiji maki-e (dust sprinkled on lacquer
to produce a pear-skin effect) and with gold(-plated) fittings which include a Kara- or Chinese-style
tsuba (guard) and decorative rice-bale rivets (tawara byo). The mekugi (peg) which holds the blade
fast in the grip (tsuka) is of screw-form, with faces embellished, like the other mounts, with a mon
(family crest) which has not yet been identified. The blade is signed with the maker’s name,
Norimitsu, an early koto (‘old sword’) smith active in Bizen province (south-east Okayama
prefecture) during the late 14th-15th century.

Dagger (tanto)
Steel
Koto, late Muromachi Period, 16th century
Japan
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2830

This dagger (tanto) is signed ‘Muramasa’, with the work said to be representative of the second
generation of smiths of that name working in Ise province (Mie prefecture) during the later
Muromachi Period. Muramasa II was a son of the first generation Muramasa, who was for long
believed to be a student of the famous Masamune—Japan’s greatest swordsmith. In fact, the
Muramasa smiths flourished some two centuries after Masamune’s day. During Edo times,
Muramasa blades acquired a sinister reputation for bloodthirstiness and ill-luck, and were proscribed
by the Tokugawa shoguns after reputedly causing injury to one or more members of that family. For
this reason, Muramasa signatures were often removed, or else adapted in an attempt to pass the
work off as that of a less controversial maker.

Long sword (tachi)


Steel blade, lacquer scabbard and soft-metal fittings
Koto blade, Muromachi Period, late 14th century, mounting Edo Period, 18th century
Japan
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0650

Sword stand
Lacquer
Probably Meiji Period, late 19th century
Japan
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2026

The sumptuous mounting (koshirae) of this fine sword is of the type known as itomaki no tachi—a
sword worn cutting edge down with traditional Japanese armour, and distinguished by an ito (braid)
wrap which extends beyond the handle to mid way down the scabbard. Of a style carried by daimyo
and other high-ranking dignitaries while on procession to the capital, Edo (modern Tokyo), the
quality of the sword displayed here is superb, with gold-foil embellished scabbard and Goto mounts
of shakudo (copper-gold alloy) highlighted with gold on a nanako (raised stippled) ground. The two
mon (crests) are: the triple oakleaf (kashiwa) of the Sawa family, daimyo of Takashima Castle in
Shinano (modern Nagano prefecture); and the paulownia (kiri), conferred by the 16th-century
warlords Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi on their favourite generals. The blade itself is
signed ‘Sadayuki’, an Iwami smith (the first generation of that name) who was active at the very
end of the 14th century. The stand upon which the koshirae is displayed is a special type employed
only for tachi.

Short sword (ko-wakizashi)


Steel blade, lacquer scabbard and soft-metal fittings
Japan
Koto blade, Muromachi Period, 16th century, or earlier, mounting Meiji Period, late 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest, 01.2821

The form of the present blade resembles that of a cut-down naginata, or pole-arm, and has a
characteristic naginata-style saya, or scabbard, which is richly decorated in gold lacquer. Blade and
scabbard appear to have been remounted during the Meiji Period, rather ostentatiously, in silver
highlighted with blue-black shakudo (a copper-gold alloy) and gold, the principal of these fittings
signed and sealed by the craftsman Miboku. The blade itself is signed ‘Kagemitsu’, a name
employed by several swordsmiths, the most famous of them active in Bizen province (south-east

33
Okayama prefecture) during the 14th century. The mounts of the tsuka, or grip, take the form of
shishi, or Korean and Chinese lions, with the suspension loop modelled as a dragon (ryu) emerging
from a cloud. The design of the saya incorporates kiri (paulownia) and hishi (diamond) mon—
heraldic crests employed by several daimyo families, including the Katsuyama, Anshi, Karatsu,
Kokura and Senzoku.

Short sword (o-tanto)


Steel blade with lacquer mounting and enamelled iron fittings
Japan
Koto blade, Muromachi Period, 16th century, or before, mounting Edo Period, 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0662

Shippo is the name used by the Japanese for cloisonné enamel, and is a term originating from
shichiko, a Buddhist reference to seven kinds of colourful precious stone. An ancient technique
dating back as far as the 6th century AD, enamelling came into fashion for decorating sword fittings
a millennium later, during the Momoyama Period, enjoying a further period of popularity during the
19th century. The present, well-preserved mounting dates from this last period. Richly embellished
with high quality shippo details, it represents a copy of an earlier style of sword with scabbard
(saya) lacquered bright red and taking the form of a stylized lobster. The blade proper, remounted
several times (as its cut-down form and several peg holes—mekugi-ana—indicate), is very much
older, dating from the 16th century or before.

Momoyama Period

Cabinet
Lacquer
Japan
Momoyama-early Edo Period, late 16th-early 17th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1281

Coffer
Lacquer
Japan
Momoyama-early Edo Period, late 16th-early 17th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1299

Nanban (‘southern barbarian’) lacquer was produced in Japan over a period of 50 years from the
1560s on specifically for the Portuguese export trade. Because of its early, romantic links between
East and West, the class holds an extraordinary appeal today. The drop-front cabinet (Portuguese:
escritorio) and dome-lidded coffer are the two most characteristic forms. The floral decoration of the
examples displayed here (supplemented on the coffer with a variety of birds and animals and
designs of seashells and seaweed) is executed in gold hiramaki-e (metal powder suspended in
lacquer) and inlaid and crushed shell. Both cabinet and coffer are fitted with mounts and handles of
decorated copper.

Incense box
Lacquer
Japan
Momoyama Period, late 16th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2833

Originally forming part of a larger set of lacquer containers, this small box (kobako) was in later
times employed independently as a kogo or incense-ceremony box. The design is of an ume or
‘plum’ (apricot)-blossom tree situated on a river bank, two birds shown flying above—the whole
executed in gold hiramaki-e (metal powder). Although the tree motif is seen on a number of much
earlier kogo, the abstraction of the design would suggest a date for the present example at the end
of the 16th century. The mon integrated into the design is that employed, among others, by the
wealthy Maeda family of Kaga province.

Edo Period

Mandala of the Diamond World

34
Painted textile
Japan
Edo Period, 19th century or earlier
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2944

Mandala of the Womb World


Painted textile
Japan
Edo Period, 19th century or earlier
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2945

Although it has Hindu origins, the mandala—a diagram of the spiritual universe—has been used in
Japanese esoteric Buddhism since the 9th century. Of several mandala forms which exist in Japan,
the most common is the `Mandala of the Two Worlds`, or Ryokai Mandara. Composed of two
separate mandalas—the Womb World (Taizokai), representing the spirit world, and the Diamond
World (Kongokai), representing matter—the diagram is used to teach an understanding of the many
complex facets of esoteric Buddhism. The Womb World mandala, with the Dainichi Nyorai, or
Cosmic Buddha, diffuses outwards from a lotus into countless other Buddhas and bodhisattvas. The
Diamond World mandala has a set of nine concentric circles which emanate from the Dainichi
Nyorai. As complex as each mandala appears—each based on the teachings in two different sutras—
the central figure of the Cosmic Buddha remains constant as the ultimate source of all being.
Impressive in its sheer scale and exquisite detail, this Ryokai Mandara emphasizes the merging of
spirit and matter as a means to enlightenment.

Buddha (Amida Nyorai)


Lacquer
Japan
Edo Period, mid-17th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1620

The calm, delicate simplicity of this sculpture suggests that it might depict the earthly Buddha, or
Shaka Nyorai. However, its symbolic hand gesture, or mudra, suggests rather an identification as
the Amida Nyorai, or `Buddha of Infinite Light`—another revered Buddha, or being who has
reached enlightenment. In this lacquered wooden image, the Amida Nyorai sits in meditation, his
robes flowing around his feet like a blossoming lotus. His hands are placed in the precise posture of
meditation, or jo-in—which symbolizes the triumph of enlightenment over a world of illusion.

Portable shrine
Lacquer and metal
Japan
Edo Period, 18th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1509

Portable shrine
Lacquer and metal
Japan
Edo Period, 18th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1510

Portable shrine
Painted wood
Japan
Edo Period, 18th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1513

With the suppression in Japan of institutional Buddhism in favour of Confucianism at the start of the
Edo Period by the controlling Tokugawa regime, private worship flourished—and along with it the
production of personal image shrines, or zushi. The first of the two double-doored shrines displayed
here contains an image of Kannon (Avalokitshvara), the bodhisattva of compassion, the second a
group image representing the past, present and future Buddhas of this world. In the third personal
devotional, two circular halves fit together to form a box. A lotus flower, a popular motif of peace, is
here paired with Aizen Myo-O, the esoteric Buddhist deity who symbolizes the hope of attaining

35
enlightenment.

Portable shrine
Lacquered wood and gilded bronze
Japan
Edo Period, 18th century or earlier
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1546

This large and impressive image shrine, or zushi, opens to reveal three popular deities unique to the
Japanese Buddhist pantheon. Seated upon a high, elaborate lotus throne in the centre, with hands
placed together in a gesture of veneration (gassho), is Fugen Bosatsu—a popular bodhisattva who
first appeared in the early Heian Period (794-1192) symbolizing the power of wisdom to conquer
obstacles. Flanking him on his left is Fudo—whose designation ‘King of Light’, or Myo-O, identifies
him as one of the ‘Five Great Kings’ (Godai Myo-O) who protects the four cardinal points and their
centre. Although awkward in appearance—with child-like softness of the body, a ferocious
expression with jutting teeth, and a characteristic strand of plaited hair—Fudo Myo-O is viewed as a
formidable protector of the dharma of the Shingon sect and commands a popularity second only to
that of Kannon (Avalokitshvara). On the far left stands an image of the guardian bodhisattva
(bosatsu) Jizo.

Statue of bodhisattva Jizo


Bronze
Japan
Edo Period, late 17th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1559

One of the most revered bodhisattvas (bosatsu) in Japan today, Jizo`s stock rose considerably
during the Heian Period when the demand for a salvation more accessible to the average person
was met by the Pure Land sect. Jizo was believed to be a guardian during the long, Buddha-less
period between the death of the historical Buddha (Shaka Nyorai) and the arrival of the future
Buddha (Miroku Nyorai). Following a Jodo Sect tradition of the 14th-15th century, Jizo is revered
particularly for his intercession on behalf of children in Hell who have died prematurely, even going
so far as to hide them in the large folds of his sleeves. This finely executed bronze depicts Jizo
standing on a double lotus throne, holding a jewel in his left hand and a staff (now missing) in the
right—symbolising his active presence in the world to aid others to salvation. On the reverse is
inscribed: `A good reputation is like a flawless piece of jade`.

Temple guardian statue


Lacquered wood and metal
Japan
Edo Period, 18th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1102

This Japanese temple figure depicts Bishamonten (Guardian of the North)—one of the Four
Heavenly Kings (Shitenno), usually positioned at each corner of a temple and charged with the
protection of the four cardinal points. Shitenno temple images, remarkable for their sculptural
power and a ferociousness intended to suppress and defeat the forces of evil (here the demon
Jyaki), trace their origins back to the Nara and Kamakura Periods. The present example, which
dates from early Edo times, continues the traditional method of construction—hollow and in sections
to allow for movement caused by changes in temperature and humidity.

Theatre mask
Wood
Japan
Edo Period, 19th century or earlier
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2801

No theatre masks come in a wide range of different types. The form displayed here is a Hannya
(named after its originator, a monk of the Muromachi Period). It represents the face of a woman
who, her love betrayed, has transformed into a raging and vengeful female demon—her
malevolence emphasized by the twin horns, exposed teeth and harsh features. In the multi-layered
world of Japanese art, the precise colour of the painted surface is of course significant, the darker

36
tint of the present example associating it with a play of greater passion such as Dojo-ji, ‘Dojo
Temple’.

Theatre mask
Wood
Japan
Edo Period, 19th century or earlier
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1192

Theatre mask
Wood
Japan
Edo Period, 19th century or earlier
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1186

Theatre mask
Wood
Japan
Edo Period, 19th century or earlier
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1198

Kyogen comedies were performed between (and as an antidote to) the high drama of the no plays,
and in contrast to the marked restraint of no masks those employed in kyogen can be gloriously
extrovert, poking obvious fun at a variety of human frailties. Kyogen masks are typified by
expressions ranging from the moderately humorous to the ridiculously distorted. Animal forms also
occur, as in the second mask shown here, with characters such as Monkey Woman, Monkey Man,
Monkey Bridegroom and Monkey Father-in-law playing a central role in such comic interludes.

Theatre mask
Lacquer
Japan
Edo Period, 19th century or earlier
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1187

Theatre mask
Lacquer
Japan
Edo Period, 19th century or earlier
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1189

The second half of the first millennium saw the introduction into Japan of a whole range of foreign
dances from Korea, China and Southeast Asia which, in the 9th century, during the brilliant Heian
Period, were eventually formalized into court dance (bugaku) and the accompanying court music
(gigaku). Both bugaku and gigaku involved the use of masks in a range of highly stylized types,
with the human faces endeavouring to capture a specific attitude or emotion, the animal masks
displaying a grotesqueness emphasized by the employment of rolling eyes and pendent chins. With
the social and political stability of the Kamakura Period bugaku went into decline, but the coming of
peace in the 17th century witnessed a revival of mask-making and the copying of earlier
masterpieces as exemplified by the specimens shown here.

Armour
Iron and textile, lacquer
Japan
Edo Period, 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2971

The faded purple lacing of this armour seems more than appropriate for the 12-plate suji-kabuto
(ridged helmet) of plum-shape which surmounts it. Produced at the very end of the Edo Period,
around 1860, shortly before the wearing of traditional armour was abandoned forever, the suit
features a helmet with side-crests (wakidate) in the shape of ken, or archaic swords, and (to judge
from the three shakudo—copper-gold alloy—hooks positioned around the rim) originally sported an
attached ‘neck curtain’, perhaps of yak hair. The do or body armour is of hinged ni-mai (two-

37
section) type, with close-laced (kebiki) scales (hon-kozane). A small pocket attached to the front of
the do (probably intended to hold a spare bow-string) bears the hishigata, or ‘diamond-shape’,
mon. The half-mask without nose is a hoate, and though appropriate to it not originally associated
with this suit.

Armour
Iron and textile, lacquer
Japan
Edo Period, 19th century and earlier
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2975

This fine armour is said to have been made for the daimyo (later Viscount) Okochi Masatada around
1850, whose triple-fan mon (family crest) it carries. The helmet is of 32- plate type (the plates
wavy-edged), signed by the 16th century smith Myochin Yoshimichi; it boasts an armoured half-
mask (mempo) and a gourd maedate (forecrest), the front of which slides off to reveal two
compartments intended for sutra or other charms. The body-section (do) of the armour is of five-
section, hinged plate form (mogami-do) with gold-plated copper fukurin (edging) and toggles, and
is fitted with black lacquered sleeves of shino-gote (splinted) type which match the suneate or shin-
guards. The haidate (skirt-piece) is of lamellar type. The entire armour is laced in a delicate pale
blue silk ito, and is shown seated upon its original carrying box, which is emblazoned with the family
mon.

Armour
Iron and textile, lacquer
Japan
Edo Period, 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2976

A common practice in later times was the incorporation within newly made armours of earlier
elements which could sometimes be of extreme age. Equally prevalent was the forgery of such early
pieces (which, even during the Edo Period, were of some rarity). Cleverly fashioned in the ancient
style and suitably ‘antiqued’, such copies seem to have been commonly misrepresented to gullible
customers—such as the samurai who, around 1840/50, commissioned this particular suit in the
optimistic belief that the helmet bowl around which his armour was being constructed was a prize of
the 13th century. The rest of the armour is a similar mix of old and new styles: large, archaic-sized
shoulder-plates (o-sode) and solid shin-guards (suneate) alongside typical tosei gusoku (modern
armour) elements such as the solid, ridge-fronted (‘pigeon-breasted’) breastplate (hatomune-do)
(influenced by 16th century Western—Namban—prototypes) and European-style chain-mail sleeves.

Armour
Iron and textile, lacquer
Japan
Edo Period, late 17th-early 18th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2977

The Myochin school of armour-makers was renowned for producing ironwork of the highest quality,
and in time came to concentrate on this aspect of armour production, leaving the mounting and
tailoring of the pieces to other specialist families such as the Haruta and Iwai. With armour used
solely for parade and display during the peaceful Edo Period, the Myochin began to develop a
particular style of embossed armour known as uchidashi—pieces not always executed in the best
Japanese taste, and remarkable more as technical tours de force than for serving any practical,
defensive use. The present armour with uchidashi do (breastplate) is a better effort than some. It
dates from around 1700, and boats a particularly finely modelled half-mask (mempo) and unusual,
ridged sleeve- and shin-guards (kote and suneate). The mon (crest) is the fuji, or wisteria, a design
which was sported by several daimyo families.

Armour mask
Iron
Japan
Edo Period, 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2955

38
This face mask, designed for wear with a full suit of Japanese armour, is called a somen, and is
composed of three separate sections—face, nose and brow—in part connected by hinge-pins. The
form of the piece is extremely fine, with boldly embossed ears, eyebrows and facial wrinkles. (The
features may be instructively compared with the face of Emma-O, the fierce king of Hell, on an
extraordinarily vibrant inro displayed elsewhere in this exhibition.) The upper lip is drilled with a row
of small holes for attaching a moustache, the upper face similarly pierced along the top edge for the
attachment of a hood. The interior of the mask is not lacquered, indicating that it has never been
mounted. The four-character signature beneath the chin perhaps explains why: it is that of the
armour-maker Myochin Munehisa, who worked in Kaga at the very end of the Edo Period when the
wearing of traditional Japanese armour was finally abandoned. This somen will presumably have
been one of the last pieces Munehisa ever made. Ex-collection Dr Édouard Mène, Paris, 1913.

Helmet and mask


Iron
Japan
Edo Period, 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2974 (part)

The helmet (kabuto) and mask (menpo) shown here form part of a complete and well-preserved
armour in the Bower collection. The pieces are unusual in that both are signed with the maker’s
name: Myochin Munefusa, a late generation of a famous armour-making family. The heavy russet
iron bowl (hachi) is of excellent quality, and made up of 26 plates fitted with a deep peak
(mabisashi) and fine mounts. These mounts, in gilded copper and blue-black shakudo (a copper-
gold alloy), include a fore-plate decorated with clouds and pierced to reveal a constellation design
highlighted in gold. The lacing is a sober deep blue, matching that of the menpo. The mon (crest)
which originally embellished the fukigaeshi, or helmet turn-backs, were evidently removed before,
at the end of the 19th century, the armour was sold by its now redundant and doubtless penurious
samurai owner.

Saddle and stirrups


Lacquered wood and iron
Japan
Decoration Edo Period, 18th-19th century, saddle frame dated 1447
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2952 (stirrups) and 01.2953 (saddle)

During the Edo Period the owning of horses was a prerogative of the samurai class, and the higher
the owner’s social status the more he would spend on his horse equipment—the quality of the
pieces displayed here being superb. Saddles (kura) were normally made of a hard wood such as oak
or maple and, often because of past historical associations, they were valued highly and retained as
heirlooms. Not infrequently, as here, the date carried by a saddle claims to be very much older than
the decoration found applied to it. The frame of the present specimen is of typical form with arched
pommel and canticle, a type current since around 1000 AD. Decorated in takamaki-e (relief lacquer)
during the mid to late Edo date, an incised inscription with kao (seal) on the undersurface claims
that it had originally been made in year 4 of the Bunan Era—that is, 1447. The accompanying
stirrups (abumi) are of iron and rather later than the date the saddle claims for itself, but decorated
en suite in the same rich nashiji lacquer with raised takamaki-e designs of pheasants, sparrows and
other birds among peonies and gentian in a rocky landscape. The small mon or family crest on the
stirrups is the hishi, which was borne by several notable families.

Helmet bowl in the form of a conch-shell


Iron
Japan
Edo Period, probably 17th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2959

Helmet bowl in the form of a hat


Iron
Japan
Edo Period, probably 17th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2961

Japanese armour is strange at the best of times, but during the Momoyama and Edo Periods

39
particularly exotic types began to appear, at first influenced by Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch
forms and decorations and then going their own bizarre way. These creations are known today as
kawari kabuto (‘strange helmets’). The two helmet-bowls (hachi) displayed here—lacking their
shikoro, or collapsible neck plates, as well as the decorative front (and rear) crests known as
maedate (and ushirodate)—represent rare examples of the class. The first is relatively crudely
modelled from a spiral strip of metal bent round and riveted to resemble a conch shell (the attribute
of several Buddhist deities and particularly favoured by the yamabushi, or warrior-monks), its
surface embellished by the addition of an original 44 ‘spikes’ folded into shape and riveted in place.
The second hachi is fashioned after a hat, with its ‘flats’ decorated with embossed insects
highlighted in gold. Curiously, the crown of this latter helmet is removable; precisely why this was
considered necessary is not at all clear.

Jingasa
Iron
Japan
Edo Period, probably 17th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2965

This flattened form of Japanese helmet is known as a jingasa, or war hat, and occurs in a variety of
types and materials, from iron (as here) to lacquer, leather and even paper. The helmet itself is
beaten from a single sheet of thin-gauge iron, and its embossed (uchidashi) decoration, typical of
Myochin work, is particularly fine, consisting of a curled dragon (with gilded, applied eye) curled
around the brim, an ethereal band of clouds over the entire surface of the crown. In form it was
perhaps intended to resemble the ‘hat of invisibility’, one of the ‘Myriad Treasures’ associated with
Japan’s ‘Seven Gods of Good Luck’.

Helmet and mask


Iron
Japan
Edo Period, probably 17th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2970

This hedgehog-like helmet (kabuto) is of the type known as a hoshi-bachi kabuto because of the
multitude of standing rivets (hoshi) which decorate the surface. Perhaps intended to deter attack by
an adversary (for fear of the damage which would be done to a valued sword blade), the standing
rivets at the same time serve to hold rigid the 62 individual, vertically arranged plates from which
the bowl is composed. As well as being in superb condition, both helmet and accompanying mask
are of the highest quality. The laced neck guard (shikoro) and throat guard (yodare kake) are
fashioned not of lacquered sheet metal but of individual leather scales (hon-kozane), while the
helmet mounts are of superbly engraved and gilded copper. The white-oak mon, or crest, which is
mounted on the helmet turn-backs (fukigaeshi) would appear to signify original ownership by a
branch of the Abe family.

Helmet
Iron
Japan
Probably Edo Period, 17th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2958

This dramatic eboshi (high court hat)-style, russet iron helmet with wide, red-lacquered shikoro
(neck guard) is another kawari, ‘strange’, creation. The ‘bowl’ is composed of 14 vertically arranged
iron plates joined by a series of high-standing rivets with decorative washers. A double bracket at
the front was intended to hold a (now-missing) crest (maedate), while beneath the peak, on the
plate covering the forehead, are represented eyebrows beaten in relief into the metal. The triple-
hollyhock mon, or badge, which decorates the single surviving turn-back of the helmet (fukigaeshi)
is that used by a number of Edo Period families of the period, including the famous civil war general
Honda Tadakatsu. The work is unsigned.

Helmet
Iron
Japan
Edo Period, 18th-19th century

40
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2956

The form of this helmet, fashioned from six separate iron plates, is of the type referred to as an
akoda-nari kabuto—that is, with a bowl reminiscent of an Akoda incense-burner. Three columns of
kanji (Chinese characters) on the three frontal plates invoke a mixture of Buddhist and Shinto
deities: Hachiman, Amaterasu, and Kasuga-daimyojin. The helmet is unsigned, but the style of the
work suggests that it is a production of the Kaga workshops, and perhaps originally constructed as
far back as the 17th century. Certainly the shikoro (neck guard) is a reused piece, with fukigaeshi
(turn backs) which were originally pierced with an 8-star hoshi (star) mon or crest and subsequently
covered over and replaced with a kikyo or Chinese bellflower mon by a later owner.

War fan
Lacquered wood and paper
Japan
Edo Period, 18th-19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1111

In traditional Japan the fan was an affectation not only of women but of men also. The folding
example displayed here is known as a gunsen, or ‘war fan’, one of two types carried by generals for
use in battle. The gunsen was primarily employed as a signalling device, but specimens are also
found with frames of iron so that, in extremis, they might be used in parrying an attacker’s sword.
The design here is that frequently encountered: on one face a gold sun on red ground, on the other
a red, rising sun on gold.

Short sword (wakizashi)


Steel blade, lacquer scabbard and silver fittings
Shinto blade, early Edo Period, mid-17th century, mounting late Edo period, 19th century
Japan
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0653

This exquisite koshirae, both the silver fittings and lacquer sumptuously decorated with
chrysanthemum flowers, contains an equally exceptional wakizashi blade made by the swordsmith
Yukihiro, called Kurobei, who lived and worked in Hizen province (modern Nagasaki and Saga
prefectures), supported by the local ruler Nabeshima Sakyo, during the middle years of the 17th
century. The honorific title ‘lord of Dewa’, which Yukihiro included in the inscription he cut upon the
tang of the sword, dates the sword’s manufacture to a period after 1663, during the smith’s last two
decades. The opposite face of the tang carries an inscription in gold recording that the blade was
used to cut two bodies on 5 October 1682 by the sword-tester Shigeyuki.

Long sword (tachi)


Steel blade, lacquer scabbard and lacquered soft-metal fittings
Shinto blade, early Edo period, mid-17th century, mounting probably the same
Japan
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1150

This important tachi mounting accompanies a fine blade signed by the Hizen (Nagasaki and Saga
prefectures) swordsmith Tadakuni—seemingly the first generation of that name who was active
around 1660. The mounting is of especially fine quality, and unusual in that both the wooden
scabbard (saya) and fittings are lacquered to match. The grip (tsuka) beneath the leather binding is
of smooth lacquered skate skin (shagreen) rather than the more commonly encountered same
(sharkskin). The binding itself is distinguished by two massive shakudo (copper-gold alloy) phoenix
birds of superb quality which, from the manner in which they have been mounted on the tsuka,
reveal that, despite its tachi hangers, the sword was in use employed katana style thrust through
the waistband with the cutting edge uppermost. The silver crest discreetly applied to the fittings
appears to be a variation of the yuki, or snow, mon employed by the Nagai family.

Pair of swords (daisho)


Blades steel, lacquered sharkskin scabbards and horn and soft-metal fittings
Shinto blades, Edo Period, 17th century, or earlier, mountings late Edo period, 19th century
Japan
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0652, 01.1160

41
Sword stand
Lacquer
Japan
Edo Period, 18th-19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1172

A daisho (literally, ‘large-small’) was a full or partially matched pair of long and short sword
mountings, only rarely fitted with a matching pair of katana and wakizashi blades produced by the
same smith. The daisho was worn with the blades edge up, thrust through the waist-band of the
winged kamishimo garment to complete the costume of the strutting, arrogant samurai class. The
present pair of swords is mounted in rather garish scabbards (saya) of lacquered sharkskin (same),
the tip of the longer katana fitted with a section of flattened horn while that of the shorter wakizashi
is rounded in the officially prescribed daisho fashion. The metal mounts are of high-quality shakudo
(copper-gold alloy) with nanako (round stippled) surface overlaid with gold. The fuchi (collar-fitting)
on each of the sword handles (tsuka) is signed with the maker’s name and kao, or seal:
‘Masayoshi’. Both blades are of fine quality, but unsigned and not originally paired. The mountings
are displayed on a good quality sword-stand (katana-kake) of the period, decorated with a typical
landscape featuring Mount Fuji in the distance.

Dagger (tanto)
Steel blade, lacquer scabbard and soft metal fittings
Japan
Shinshinto blade, blade and mounting Edo Period, 19th century, the blade dated spring 1835
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest, 01.654

Taikei Naotane was one of the most famous students of the celebrated swordsmith Suishinshi
Masahide. Masahide had re-established traditional sword-making methods (which he favoured over
modern practicality) at the end of the 18th century, ushering in the shinshinto (‘new new sword’)
period of Japanese sword history. Of shinshinto smiths, Naotane is recognized as one of the very
best. Naotane’s birth name was Shoji Minobei. He was born in 1778 and died, aged 79, in 1857—
four years after the arrival of Commodore Perry’s ‘black ships’ and the opening of Japan to the
outside world following two and a half centuries of almost total seclusion. This tanto, in aikuchi
(guardless) mounting, was produced at the very summit of Naotane’s swordsmithing skills.

Long sword (katana)


Steel blade, lacquer scabbard with soft-metal fittings
Japan
Shinshinto blade, blade and mounting Edo Period, 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2829

This extremely long and interesting blade is mounted as a katana—a type of sword worn thrust
through the belt with the edge uppermost. Ordinarily weapons of this size were produced not for
actual use but for dedication at the shrine of a god. The present sword appears to have enjoyed
both roles, as the inscription chiselled on the two faces of the tang records. According to this text
the sword was once owned by Hayashi Tetsutaro Minamoto no Yoshidake. Tetsutaro was a 19th
century ronin, or masterless samurai from Inaba (Tottori), famous for his participation with the
legendary imperialist Sakamoto Ryoma in a fighting competition organized in the presence of the
Tosa daimyo (literally, ‘big name’, clan chieftain). The inscription seems to indicate that the sword
was dedicated to the goddess Marishiten by a certain Miyoshi Toji of Inaba in Kaei 5—1852.

Articulated dragon
Iron
Japan
Edo Period, 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1033

This splendid iron okimono, or alcove ornament, takes the form of a dragon (ryu), a creature of
Chinese mythology particularly associated in Japan with the sea and the sky. The body is
constructed of separately fashioned iron hoops so assembled as to produce a mobile body, with the
component parts of each leg and clawed foot similarly mounted and exhibiting even greater
flexibility—the whole cleverly contrived (as in the case of most articulated models of this sort) so
that none of the assembly pins is visible to the naked eye. The finely modelled head has movable

42
jaws and tongue and heavily gilded eyes, while the undersurface of the belly carries a four-
character maker’s signature.

Articulated lobster
Iron
Japan
Edo Period, 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1037

The Japanese lobster, ebi, is not only smaller in size than its Western counterpart but it also lacks
the familiar, prominent claw. The creature symbolizes longevity and good fortune, and commonly
features in celebrations for the New Year and other contexts. The flexibility, modelling and surface
detail of this specimen are truly remarkable, and mark this out as a masterpiece of the genre. It
carries a two-character signature under the tail: ‘Tadakiyo’.

Articulated carp
Iron
Japan
Edo Period, 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1039

The carp is a symbol of fruitfulness in marriage and general good fortune, but also of the
perseverance which is required of a young warrior—hence its adoption for the traditional annual
Boy’s Day festival of 5 May. This finely modelled version of the fish, in russet iron, has a flexible
body, sprung mouth, movable whiskers and hinged fins, and is inscribed beneath the head with the
name of the maker: ‘Munekazu’.

Articulated crab
Iron
Japan
Edo Period, 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1038

Despite its impressive weight and its excellent quality, this articulated iron crab with gilded eyes
remains unsigned. Each of the creature’s limbs and eyes is so arranged as to allow them to move
not only in two planes but to rotate in imitation of the actual creature in real life. The Japanese word
for crab is kani, among other things a homophone for ‘bravery’, explaining the crustacean’s not-
infrequent employment as a samurai emblem. In Japanese lore the crabs of Dannoura (near
Shimonoseki) are said to represent the transmigrated souls of the Taira clan (the Heike), who
drowned at this spot in 1185 following a famous battle at sea against the Minamoto.

Articulated praying mantis


Iron
Japan
Edo Period, 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1040

Articulated beetle
Iron
Japan
Edo Period, 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1042

A Chinese legend dating back two thousand years and more associates the praying mantis
(Japanese kamakiri) with bravery for raising its ‘arm’ to stop a carriage, unaware that such an act
was beyond its power. As a seasonal motif, the insect also represents autumn. The present model,
though unsigned, is of high though not best quality, with hinged legs and joints and a rotating head,
body and the forelegs which give the creature its Western name. Displayed alongside is a beetle—a
common Japanese pet—with even more moving parts, signed on the undersurface of one of the
wing-cases: ‘Muneyoshi’—no relation, it seems, to the Myochin armour-makers of that name with
whom these articulated models are often and erroneously associated.

43
Articulated centipede
Iron
Japan
Edo Period-Meiji Period, mid to late 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1043

The mukade, or centipede, is one of Chinese tradition’s ‘Five Poisonous Reptiles’, a creature in
Japan generally associated with evil-doing but nonetheless possessing certain talismanic properties
useful to ward-off misfortune. Because of these properties the insect is a commonly encountered
subject in Japanese art and design. The present centipede is an okimono, or alcove ornament, with
no particular function beyond the decorative. Though signed in the more sophisticated sosho,
running, script and with a silver seal attached to the undersurface, the quality of manufacture is
noticeably less sophisticated than other specimens among the Bower group, perhaps indicating a
somewhat later, Meiji date for the piece.

Articulated pheasant
Iron
Japan
Edo Period-Meiji Period, 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1045

There are two principal types of native Japanese pheasant: the smaller black-green kiji (the national
bird), and the larger red-brown yamadori, both, on account of their distinctive mating call, symbolic
of spring. This articulated and elaborately detailed iron model of the bird is of excellent quality and,
while the wings possess only limited movement, the head turns and cocks its head in a convincingly
naturalistic fashion. The piece is unsigned.

Cabinet
Lacquer
Japan
Edo Period, circa 1650-1675
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1329

The Portuguese had reached Japan in the mid-16th century, and would maintain a presence in the
country for more than 50 years. Their aggressive promotion of Christian worship, however, became
too much for the Japanese government to bear, and in 1639 the foreigners were expelled and
Christianity proscribed. A very restricted trading position was inherited by an outpost of the Dutch
East India Company, whose members were contained on an island, Deshima, off the Japanese
coast. Dutch taste in Japanese export lacquer was very different from the shell-dominated
Portuguese Nanban style, favouring scenic designs in Japanese style takamaki-e—raised gold
lacquer—of which this small, silver-mounted, double-doored cabinet (a development on the drop-
front Portuguese escritorio) stands as a particularly fine example.

Mirror box
Lacquer
Japan
Edo Period, 17th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2832

This small, unsigned, circular lacquer box with close-fitting lid is decorated in pure Japanese style
with a simple and restrained design of plum blossoms executed in gold dust (hiramaki-e) and gold
flakes (e-nashiji) suspended in lacquer. The box contains a simple circular mirror (en-kyo) of
reflective, high-tin bronze with stippled ground and central boss pierced to receive a cord to allow it
to be held. The inscription on the mirror reads Tenkaichi, or ‘First under heaven’—a traditional boast
of mirror-makers during the Edo Period.

Box in the shape of Mt Fuji


Lacquer
Japan
Edo Period, mid-19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1217

44
The Japanese obsession with Mt Fuji—the snow-capped, sacred volcanic mountain—reached its
apogee during late Edo times when this lidded box was made. Unsigned, the outline follows that of
the mountain in profile, with a representation of Nihonbashi bridge in the middle ground and
Nihonbashi fish-market to the fore. The decoration of the sides takes the form of lobed and fan-
shaped panels containing lake scenes, these set against a geometric inlaid ground. The technique is
gold and silver togidashi-e (multiple layers of lacquer applied over the design and polished away to
produce a flush surface), with some kinpun (fine gold dust) in the side panel decoration.

Writing box with a bird


Lacquer
Japan
Edo Period, 18th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2913

This superb though unsigned suzuribako (writing box) has its overhanging lid decorated with a pair
of mandarin ducks, male and female, emblems of conjugal fidelity often featured in the decoration
of lacquer wares intended as wedding gifts. The decoration is in aokin (a mixture of gold and silver
powders imparting a greenish tinge), silver and coloured togidashi-e (multiple layers of lacquer
applied over the design and polished away to produce a flush surface), hiramaki-e (metal powder)
and takamaki-e (raised gold lacquer ) with gold and silver foil details on a gold ground. The interior
of the box, with brush trays on the right and the left, a frame for the inkstone in the centre and a
flower-shaped, copper-gilded water-dropper, is decorated in similar techniques to the outside on a
ground of sparse nashiji (gold flakes).

Box decorated with a sho


Lacquer
Japan
Late Edo-Meiji Period, 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1324

The principal decorative motif of this box with flush-fitting lid is a sho: the primitive mouth-organ
(of Chinese origin) associated with court music since ancient times and in particular with the highly
stylized performances known as bugaku or gigaku. The decorative technique employed, and the
liberal use of the paulownia mon (crest)—strongly associated with the 16th century warlord
Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-98)—probably identify this as a revival piece of the late 19th century,
when there was renewed interest in historical lacquer. An earlier 19th century date for the piece is
not impossible, however.

Two-tiered document box


Lacquer
Japan
Edo Period, late 18th-early 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1347

Document box
Lacquer
Japan
Edo Period, late 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1348

Document box
Lacquer
Japan
Edo Period, late 18th-early 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1343

Important documents in Japan were frequently provided with custom-made boxes, fubako, either
for the safe-keeping of their contents or for ceremonial delivery. Many examples of such boxes
survive, of standardized, elongated form, usually with an overhanging lid cut away at the sides to
accommodate twin ring cord-fittings or, as in the first and second examples shown here, with a
flush-fitting lid. The decoration on the third of these fubako takes the form of overlapping
chrysanthemum flowers against a hanabishi-shippo (floral rhombus) ground. The designs of this

45
spectacular piece are in gold and green-tinged (aokin) hiramaki-e (metal powder), nashiji (flakes)
and takamaki-e (raised lacquer). The technique of the first and second boxes is similar, with details
applied in gold foil. The design of the two-tiered fubako is a schematized river scene with plum and
pine interspersed with kiri mon (paulownia-leaf crests), while that of the second box takes its
inspiration from 16th century Nanban lacquer and designs then current on Western playing cards.

Box in the form of a clam shell


Lacquer
Japan
Edo Period, 18th-early 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0993

Box in the form of three overlapping clam shells


Lacquer
Japan
Meiji Period, late 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.0995

The smaller and earlier of these two clam (hamaguri)-design boxes, both with flush-fitting lids, is
decorated in gold and silver togidashi-e (multiple layers of lacquer polished away to produce a flush
surface). The larger and more complex is further embellished with aokin (a mixture of gold and
silver powders producing a greenish tinge) and hiramaki-e (metal powder) and gold foil. The
classical motifs arbitrarily chosen to decorate the multiple box, as well as its elaborate modelling,
suggest for this piece a post-Edo date. Although redolent with fantastical and sexual significance,
the clam as subject-matter seems here to be a simple portrayal of nature, without specific symbolic
intent.

Picnic set
Lacquer
Japan
Edo Period, circa 1650-1700
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1393

This compact, tiered, cylindrical picnic set consists of a bottle for Japanese sake (rice wine)
surmounted by a two-tier food box and lid. Both the bold design—comprising two branches of hemp
palm (shurochiku) in hiramaki-e (metal powder) and e-nashiji (gold flakes)—and the crushed-shell
base, readily identify it as a product of the later 17th century. The lid carries a boldly executed
depiction of a shojo, or long-haired, drunken demon, and a motif associated with the earlier export
lacquers—the karakusa, or ‘Chinese grasses’, arabesque.

Picnic set
Lacquer
Japan
Edo Period, late 17th-early 18th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1175

Picnics in Edo Period Japan were very different from the casual excursions indulged in in the West,
and involved the use of special equipment often of superb quality and high value. Despite being
incomplete (a tray beneath the sake bottle is missing), the present picnic set is one of the more
remarkable lacquer items in the Bower collection. Its extraordinary and (to Western eyes) jarring
mix of designs includes several motifs familiar from earlier lacquer wares associated with Kodaiji
temple in Kyoto (i.e. the wave), and later Nanban lacquer (the karakusa vine). The stronger
influence, however, is that of Genroku Era (1688-1704) textiles, where bold juxtapositions of
textures as seen here had their origin.

Cosmetic set
Lacquer
Japan
Edo Period, 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1301

This cosmetic set—comprising a mirror stand, mirror box, boxes with overhanging lids, natsume

46
boxes with flush-fitting lids and inner trays (only one box displayed here), and three brushes—is
uniformly decorated in crushed-shell mosaic overlaid with a variety of mon (heraldic devices) in
hiramaki-e (metal powder). The number of these mon suggests that they do not denote any specific
pedigree but have simply been appropriated as a pretentious form of decoration by a wealthy
member of the merchant class. The set perhaps originally formed part of a wedding trousseau. The
mirror, cast in a high-tin bronze, is decorated with cranes and pines, with a tortoise boss pierced to
take the carrying cord—all symbols of longevity, good fortune and steadfastness.

Pillow
Lacquer
Japan
Edo Period, late 17th-early 18th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1309

Headrests, though something of a curiosity in the West, have been a feature of many cultures, from
ancient Egypt (see elsewhere in this exhibition) through to modern-day Africa. Japanese versions of
the type, designed to support the neck, inevitably aspire to a high degree of sophistication. The
example shown here is of the type known as a ko-makura or kyara-makura, ‘incense pillow’. These
became fashionable for high status women during the second quarter of the 17th century—the
intention being that the incense (or even incense burners!) contained within should delicately
perfume the owner’s elaborately coiffeured hair while she slept.

Writing box in Rinpa style


Lacquer
Japan
Edo Period, late 18th-early 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1294

The most famous of the Rinpa-style artists was Ogata Korin (1658-1716), whose bold, powerful
designs enjoyed a revival a hundred years after his death. Though this writing box (suzuribako) is
signed with a passable version of his name and mark (kao), and copies in its internal arrangement
the typical Korin style, a certain lack of spontaneity in the design suggests that it is in the manner
of, rather than by, the master himself. The design is that of a weeping cherry overhanging a garden
fence, accomplished in gold hiramaki-e (metal powder) and takamaki-e (raised lacquer), with the
bold encrustations of lead and shell which characterize the Korin style.

Writing box in Chinese style


Lacquer
Japan
Edo Period, late 18th-early 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1295

The early to mid Edo Period witnessed a powerful interest in Chinese material culture of the
contemporary Ming and Qing Dynasties, which the Japanese naturally set to imitating. This
suzuribako, or writing box, carries on its overhanging lid, delicately executed in thin sections of shell
(aogai), a scene of the 8th-century Emperor Xuanzong (Japanese: Genso) and his concubine, the ill-
fated Yang Guifei (Japanese: Yokihi) playing flutes in a garden. (Yang Guifei was later strangled in
order to placate mutinying Imperial troops.) The Japanese lacquer craftsman has captured with
ease the controlled Chinese inlay-style—which is poles apart from the relatively crude but infinitely
more vibrant mother-of-pearl chips and granules of the Nanban wares and their successors.

Pair of sake casks


Lacquer
Japan
Edo Period, 17th-18th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1177 and 01.2802

The squared form of these wedding sake flasks identifies them as products of the Shonai area of
Japan, where they are always produced in pairs (often with a frame). They have two names: the
first, sashi-daru, refers to their method of construction (sashi-mono, ‘joinery’); the other, sode-
daru, ‘sleeve casks’, to their resemblance in shape to a Japanese sleeve. The decoration
incorporates the triple hollyhock, or aoi, mon (crest) of the Edo Period’s Tokugawa shogunate.

47
Pair of sake bottles
Lacquer
Japan
Edo Period, 18th-19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1385-01.1386

This pair of lacquer sake bottles is decorated with tachibana (mandarin orange) trees and pine
trees, minogame turtles (with their characteristic seaweed-tangled tails) and cranes with stylised,
5-petal plum-blossom (umebachi) mon (family crests)— conventional symbols of good fortune and
longevity executed in gold and silver hiramaki-e (powder in a clear lacquer suspension), takamaki-e
(relief lacquer) and kirikane (small squares of cut gold foil) on a nashiji (gold flake) ground. The
likelihood is that the flasks originally formed part of a set of gifts offered at a high-status wedding.

Box
Lacquer
Japan
Edo Period, 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2831

This unsigned, three-tiered hexagonal box is decorated in distinctive fashion with a variety of fine,
geometric inlays of iridescent shell with tiny pieces of gold and silver foil laid flush with the lacquer
ground. This Chinese style of inlay is particularly associated with the Somada family, lacquer artists
working in the tradition (which, in its ‘Japanized’ form originated in Nagasaki, Edo Period Japan’s
window on contemporary China) since the early 18th century.

Five-case inro
Lacquer
Japan
Meiji Period, late 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1995

The inro (literally, ‘seal basket’, in the West often referred to as a ‘medicine case’) was a small,
compartmented box suspended on double cords (held taught with an ojime bead) which was worn
tucked in to the obi (the sash used to secure the kimono) where it was held in place by a netsuke
(toggle). Such boxes first appear during the 17th century, growing in popularity to become one of
the principal male accessories and an important statement of a man’s personal taste. The lacquer
specimen displayed here, signed on the base by the artist Reikoshai Koji and dating from the late
19th century, is particularly dramatic, with an image of Emma-O, the fierce king of Hell, executed in
strong relief in red, black, green and gold hiramaki-e (metal powder in lacquer suspension) with
inlaid eyes and details applied in red and green.

Three-case inro
Lacquer
Japan
Meiji Period, late 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1984

Three-case inro
Lacquer
Japan
Meiji Period, late 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1990

Images charming and dramatic: two inro, signed by the same 19th century artist, Kajikawa—one of
the last generations of a long family of inro-shi (inro-makers) active since the beginning of the Edo
Period. The decoration of the first inro comprises a pair of delightfully plump birds perched on the
gnarled branch of a flowering plum tree, executed in takamaki-e (lacquer in relief) and highlighted
in shades of gold, silver, black and brown hiramaki-e (metal powders suspended in lacquer) and
applied gold foil. The decoration of the second is a bird of prey standing on a rock beside an ancient
pine, executed in shades of gold, silver and brown hiramaki-e and takamaki-e on a roiro (shiny
black) and nashiji (gold flake) ground.

48
Four-case inro
Lacquer
Japan
Meiji Period, 18th-19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1992

Four-case inro
Lacquer
Japan
Meiji Period, late 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1996

The two lacquer inro displayed here are decorated with idealized landscapes, each very different in
style and feel. The first and more formal design, a continuous scene covering both front and back of
the piece, is of a flight of geese above flooded rice fields, with a path, rocks, leafy trees and shrubs
in the foreground. The design of the second inro, which is rather more stylised, shows a bridge
spanning a wide river, with sailing boats and a mountain or hills behind. Both it and its fellow are
beautifully decorated with techniques drawn from the inro-shi’s usual range of lacquer techniques.

Four-case inro
Lacquer
Japan
Meiji Period, 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1988

Two-case inro
Lacquer
Japan
Meiji Period, late 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1989

Five-case inro
Lacquer
Japan
Meiji Period, 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1991

The common theme of the three inro displayed here is flowers and grasses, demonstrating
something of the range of styles and effects which could be achieved in the lacquer medium. The
first specimen is signed by the 19th century maker Koma Kyuhaku, a late generation of a large
family school dating back to the 17th century. The design is of fireflies clustered around a clump of
reeds. The second inro depicts flowering peonies wrapped in a folding paper decorated with ho-o
birds in flight above flowering kiri branches; the box opens along the lines of the ‘wrap’, and is
signed Tachibana Gyukuzan, an inro-shi (inro-maker) of the late 19th century. The third inro,
identified by the signature as a late 19th century product of the Kajikawa School, is decorated on
both sides with a continuous scene of flowering chrysanthemums and rocks beside a winding river,
with occasional intervening bands of cloud.

Tobacco box
Lacquer
Japan
Edo Period, 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1228

Tobacco box
Wood
Japan
Edo Period, 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1249

Tobacco box

49
Wood
Japan
Edo Period, 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1250

The Japanese tobacco box (tonkotsu), though suspended on a cord with ojime bead and netsuke
toggle (this last often of considerable size and shaped so as to hold a pipe), differs from inro in
having only a single compartment. Tonkotsu, moreover, were generally of wood and worn by the
lower classes—whereas the more sophisticated inro, most frequently of lacquer, tended to be
carried by the aristocracy. The three tonkotsu displayed here are excellent examples of the class.
The first, in lacquer, takes the form of a plump, cloak-engulfed girl who is perhaps to be recognized
as Okame, goddess of mirth—the girl who once performed a lewd comic dance to lure the sun
goddess, Amaterasu Omikami, from a cave and restore light to the world; Okame later came to be
recognized as a patron of commercial prosperity. When inverted, the design is revealed as that of
an owl—an unusual choice of motif, given its evil association, but presumably a deliberate
contrasting of light and dark in all its meanings. The second and third tonkotsu take as their theme
monkeys: shown with hands over ears and accompanied by matching ojime and netsuke to
complete the ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ metaphor; and en famille within a peach tree,
gorging on the fruit of immortality.

Meiji Period

Dagger (tanto)
Steel blade, lacquer scabbard and horn and soft metal fittings
Japan
Shinshinto blade, blade and mounting Meiji Period, 19th century, the blade dated May 1870
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest, 01.1155

Gassan Sadakazu (1836-1918) was one of the most accomplished swordsmiths of the late 19th
century. This tanto, or dagger, with its characteristic ayasugi (sinusoidal) grain-pattern to the steel,
is dated ‘Meiji 3, 5th month, a day’—i.e. May, 1870, when Sadakazu was 34 years old and his skills
at their peak. The tanto is accompanied by an aikuchi (guardless) mounting, decorated with
sprinkled shell-powder and crumpled gold leaf in lacquer suspension, the two techniques diagonally
divided (katami-gawari). The mounting has polished horn fittings and a fine shakudo (copper-gold
alloy) kozuka (utility knife handle) decorated in silver and gilded with a hawk on its stand,
terminating in a lion (karashishi).

Kettle
Iron
Japan
Meiji Period, late 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1088

Kettle
Iron
Japan
Meiji Period, late 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1089

Kettle
Iron
Japan
Meiji Period, late 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1090

Heavy, cast-iron Japanese kettles (tetsubin) take the same general, swivel-handled form though
differ markedly both in size and in the form of their decoration—which ranges from examples in
bold, cast relief to more delicate specimens with applied details in gold, silver and other soft metals.
Designs vary, but the theme, like the material itself, is consistently rustic—in keeping with the
philosophy of the tea ceremony in which (when not in ordinary domestic use) such vessels could be
employed. There are a number of curious Japanese folk tales extant involving kettles—most
famously ‘The Magic Kettle’, in which the fox and the badger-like tanuki demonstrate a curious

50
ability to adopt tetsubin form.

Box in the form of a folded paper


Lacquer
Japan
Meiji Period, 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1314

This small and exquisitely decorated box, decorated in a range of lacquer techniques, takes its
overall shape from a folded piece of fancy paper wrapped around a spray of chrysanthemums tied
with a mizuhiki bow—a knot employed for formal gifts made on auspicious occasions. The probable
use of tin flakes covered with yellowish lacquer to enrich the nashiji (gold flake) ground would seem
to suggest a Meiji-era date for the piece.

Box with peony decoration


Lacquer
Japan
Meiji Period, late 19th-early 20th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1316

The thinly applied kinji (polished gold lacquer) ground and the method of shaping the box around
the design on the lid very much suggest a post-Edo Period date for this piece. The lid is decorated
as a peony flower, executed in two shades of gold and highlighted with kirikane (small squares of
cut gold) on the leaves; the sides are decorated with pine saplings in hiramaki-e (metal powder)
and takamaki-e (raised lacquer) on a kinji (polished gold) ground, with additional kirikane on the
background hills.

Writing box with a samurai


Lacquer
Japan
Meiji Period, late 19th or 20th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2933

The bold design on the overhanging lid of this suzuribako, or writing box, is that of a mounted
archer, shown at the very moment of releasing his arrow. The warrior is not named, but the style of
his armour and accoutrements recall depictions dating from the Genpei Wars of the 12th century,
making an identification as Yoshitsune, the youthful hero of the Minamoto clan, most likely. The
design is executed in gold and coloured takamaki-e (raised lacquer), with encrustations of gilded
metal, copper and shakudo (a copper-gold alloy). The horse’s body is executed in an unusual
technique involving coarse particles of an unidentified grey material sprinkled on a slightly sculpted
ground—an experimental technique suggesting a date for the box towards the end of the Meiji
Period.

Sake jar
Lacquer
Japan
Meiji Period, late 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1121

Sake dipper
Lacquer
Japan
Edo Period, 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2023

Sake (wine produced from fermented rice) has been consumed in Japan since the earliest times,
and as a precious commodity was (and still is) considered an appropriate offering to the gods and a
suitable gift to and between members of the ruling elite. The fine sake pot shown here, decorated in
a range of lacquer techniques, is elaborately embellished at the base with two virtually free-
standing shojo—mythical creatures which are addicted to sake and said to reside in coastal areas.
Essentially human (though occasionally shown with monkey faces), they are distinguished both in
art and in theatre (here in a scene inspired by the no play Shojo Midare) wearing flowing manes of

51
wild, red hair. One of the creatures is shown holding a sake ladle similar to the example displayed
alongside, decorated in aogai (shell) lacquer.

Cabinet
Lacquer
Japan
Meiji Period, late 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1126

The political and economic turmoil of early Meiji Period Japan witnessed an unloading on to the
European and American markets of a mass of things Japanese by the newly impoverished samurai
class. This included armour and all manner of family treasures, these inspiring in the West an
unquenchable thirst for things Japanese which soon began to be catered for by specially
manufactured export goods. Small wooden cabinets of the type shown here, finely lacquered with
hinged door and internal drawers, were produced very much with Western rather than local
Japanese taste in mind, though an enormously high standard of design and execution continued to
be maintained.

Box in the form of a yakko kite


Lacquer
Japan
Meiji Period, late 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1218

This box takes its shape from the design of the lid, which shows the rear view of a yakko kite—
introduced in the 18th century and one of the ways in which the Edo townspeople were able
discreetly to poke fun at their samurai masters. The inner tray is decorated with a variety of
children’s toys, including a bird-whistle, a tai-guruma (wooden sea-bream on wheels), Daruma
dolls, a sanbaso dancer’s hat, a paper windmill and a denden taiko (drum with clappers attached by
string). The technique is gold, aokin and coloured hiramaki-e (metal powder) and takamaki-e
(raised lacquer) on a kinji (polished gold lacquer) ground.

Box in the form of a Japanese lute


Lacquer
Japan
Meiji Period, late19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1375

Dating from the later 19th century, this box takes the form of a four-stringed biwa (one of the
strings is missing), a short-necked lute somewhat resembling the Western mandolin. The flush-
fitting lid is lacquered to imitate the texture of wood-grain with a band of nashiji decoration (gold
flakes suspended in lacquer) and with a cricket and chrysanthemums in gold, black and silver. By
the 13th and 14th centuries, the biwa was commonly employed in the recitation of strongly
romantic military epics such as Heike Monogatari (‘Tale of the Heike’), stories which the form of this
box was clearly intended to evoke

Dish
Enamel
Japan
Meiji Period, late 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1075

The technique of enamelling on metal, usually with divisions in the design and the colours separated
by fine metal wire (cloisonné), first became popular in the 17th century. It aspired to new heights of
sophistication under artists of the Meiji Period, who were producing wares primarily for the
burgeoning export trade. Meiji enamels are distinguished by their exceptionally lustrous surface and
by a firm adhesion of the enamel to its metal base—an advance which opened up possibilities for
decoration over a larger area than had been possible previously. Designs were also produced
without wire (musen). The present, four-footed rectangular dish, with a gentle scene of water-lilies
framed by the exposed core copper, represents an exceptionally pleasing example of the Meiji type.

Armour-maker

52
Painting on textile
Japan
Meiji Period, late 19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1106

In common with many aspects of Japanese culture, traditional armour was a complex creation.
Many and varied types were produced from the 4th-5th century on, but the earliest, standard form
of Japanese armour was of lamellar (sane) construction, assembled from oblong scales of iron or
rawhide laced together to produce a strong, flexible carapace. This provided, where it covered, an
effective and (as time went on) increasingly spectacular protection against both arrows and edged
weapons. The making and assembling of suits of armour was highly skilled work, requiring immense
dexterity and patience. Here, in this Meiji Period painting on silk by the artist Gassan, we see an
aged armourer (katchu-shi) kneeling in his workshop beside a partially laced do, or body-protection,
which is suspended from the ceiling to facilitate the assembly. The armour—an o-yoroi (‘great
harness’), with accompanying hoshi-kabuto (helmet bowl with projecting rivet heads) placed on the
shelf to one side—is in the antique style fashionable during the Kamakura Period (14th century or
earlier) and revived for parade use during later Edo times.

Taisho Period

Portable shrine
Lacquer, carved wood
Japan
Taisho Period, early 20th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1504

This finely detailed zushi, taking the form of a triptych, is carved with an image of the Amida
Nyorai, or `Buddha of Infinite Light`, who is shown sitting on a throne of clouds. The interior is
carved in sandalwood by the sculptor Koseki and the exterior lacquered by Komatsu, both artists of
the early 20th century, the design of the piece being based on an early Chinese type dating from
the Tang dynasty (AD 618-906). The belief in Amida`s ability to offer salvation in the afterlife was
first popularized in Japan with the growth of the Pure Land sect in the 12th century.

Box for poem cards


Lacquer
Japan
Taisho-Showa Period, early 20th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1349

The poem game was played with two packs of 100 cards each: on one was inscribed the first lines
of 100 tanka, or 31-syllable poems, on the other the missing second parts of these poems. It was
the players’ job to match the two up. This elegant box, with its flush-fitting lid and striking design of
drooping wisteria-sprays executed in hiramaki-e (metal powder) and inlaid shell on an unusual
granulated gold ground, is reminiscent of the work or influence of Akatsuka Jitoku (1871-1936), an
important lacquer artist who specialized in the manufacture of boxes for formal presentation by
members of the imperial family.

CHINA, TIBET AND SOUTHEAST ASIA

Padmapani
Bronze
China
Qing Dynasty, 20th century or earlier
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1567

At the close of the Han Dynasty (25-220 AD), China descended into a long period of civil unrest.
Buddhism in the Northern kingdom—a mostly non-Chinese ruling class—would flourish in place of
the combined ideologies of Confucianism and Daoism. The spread of votives, as seen in this
example, was an important tool employed to encourage personal devotion among all levels of
society. The flame-like robes spreading upwards across the mandorla and the stiff modelling and
shape of its pedestal are typical of the Northern Wei style of the 5th century, but closer examination

53
tells a rather different story. On the reverse is an inscription which reads: ‘The third year of Ying
Yang Wang, Southern Dynasty’. Unfortunately, Ying Yang Wang’s reign during the Song dynasty,
the first of the four Southern Dynasties, lasted only one year, between AD 423 and 424. In all
likelihood a 20th century copy of an earlier object, it remains a charming depiction of Padmapani,
the lotus-bearing emanation of Avalokiteshvara, a widely popular deity of early Chinese Buddhism.

Guardian lion
Gilded bronze
China
Qing Dynasty, mid-19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1614

Guardian lion
Gilded bronze
China
Qing Dynasty, mid-19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1615

Guardian lions, or shi, were first brought to China with the arrival of Buddhism during the early Han
Dynasty (206-220 AD). Acting as the symbolic protectors of the dharma, or teachings of the
Buddha, they soon came to occupy a distinctive role in Chinese art as the protectors of imperial
palaces and governmental offices. Although at first glance identical, these vibrantly gilded guardian
lions in fact represent a male and female pair. The male lion places his right paw over the globe—
signifying his connection with the earth—and acts as a vigilant guard of the domain he protects,
while the female lion plays with a cub beneath her left paw, signifying her fierce guardianship of the
inhabitants inside.

Statue of Tara
Gilded bronze
Chinese
18th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1584

Statue of Tara
Gilded bronze
Southeast India
18th-19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1595

Statue of Manjusri
Gilded bronze
Chinese
Qing Dynasty, mid-19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1586

Each of the bodhisattva—altruistic human beings dedicated to the salvation of others—in this group
of gilded bronze statues is constructed in an easily portable size, suited for personal devotion, for
sale to foreigners, or as talismans during long travels. The characteristics of each—elasticity in the
waistline and loose, flowing robes draped around the arms and at the feet—are borrowed from
Tibetan and Nepalese styles typical of the period of prolific intercultural exchange of the 17th and
18th centuries. In the figure of Manjusri, the bodhisattva of wisdom is shown raising the sword he
uses to cut through the traps of ignorance and egotism. Tara, the female bodhisattva who
represents the manifestation of wisdom, is shown here both seated, with her left foot resting
downwards on a lotus flower, and standing on a lotus throne with her left hand in the gesture of
argument, or vitarka mudra—a characteristic gesture of this and other bodhisattvas.

Buddha Shakyamuni
Gilded bronze, painted detail
Sino-Tibetan
18th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1619

54
By the 18th century, the influence of Tibetan art styles in China had reached its peak. The presence
of high-ranking lamas in the Chinese imperial court and the exchange of artistic styles in a myriad
of different media were highlighted during the reign of the Qianlong emperor (1736-95)—himself
favouring Tibetan forms of Buddhism. The melding of styles during this effervescent period of
exchange can be seen in the finely executed detail of this statue of the Buddha Shakyamuni.
Decorative touches in the Buddha’s robes are heavily incised to add a detailed, yet subtle,
sophistication which contrasts with the more artificial, forced posture of the form beneath. Within
this balance each extreme plays off against the other, resulting in an appealing, symbolic dualism
typical of the late Sino-Tibetan style.

Avalokiteshvara (Guanyin)
Bronze
China
Ming Dynasty, 16th- 17th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1540

Sumptuous, richly detailed robes and celestial jewels adorn this very fine bronze of Avalokiteshvara,
the bodhisattva of infinite compassion. Most noticeable is his prominent headdress depicting the
seated figure of Amitabha, the eternal Buddha who reigns in the realm of the Western Paradise.
Amitabha is known in Tibet and Nepal as one of the five celestial Buddha, or tathagatas, manifest in
the historical Buddha and the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. As Pure Land Buddhism spread
throughout eastern Asia and into Japan by the 12th century, Amitabha’s prolific presence in the
world multiplied, and the simple invocation of his name was enough to lead beings to his Western
Paradise to reside in heavenly sanctuary. As Avalokitshvara’s parental Buddha, Amitabha is typically
seen in meditation mudra (dynana), raised above the head or seated high in his celestial crown.

Avalokiteshvara (Guanyin)
Gilded Bronze
China
Ming Dynasty, 16th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1572

In Buddhist art throughout the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of
compassion, is frequently shown as a female. Despite a decidedly masculine form of representation
in China since the Song dynasty (960-1126 AD), Avalokiteshvara (Guanyin) gradually comes to
adopt characteristics found in both traditional and Hindu deities and, in sculpture and painting, a
blend of both male and female attributes. It is believed that this dual nature was deliberate,
intended to emphasize Guanyin’s transcendence of gender and the bodhisattva’s ability to transform
into whatever form was required to bring compassion into the world. In this luminous, gilded bronze
statue of Guanyin the distinctively soft, feminine appearance of the bodhisattva is further
emphasized by the presence in its lap of a small infant—typical of the mother-goddess qualities
Guanyin assumes in certain Buddhist sects devoted to Guanyin.

Buddha Shakyamuni
Gilded bronze
Tibet
Tibet or Nepal, 16th-17th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1526

This extremely fine and graceful gilded bronze image depicts the earthly Buddha in his most crucial
moment of life. Living in the 5th century BC, the Buddha is recorded as having sat beneath a bodhi
tree—literally, `tree of enlightenment`—until he was able to attain insight into the cause of
suffering. Shown seated in padmasana (meditation) on a double lotus throne, the Buddha`s left
hand reaches down in bhumisparsha (earth touching), summoning the earth to witness the
moment. The most recognizable pose of the historical Buddha in Tibetan art, this symbolic gesture,
or mudra, is intended to evoke thoughtful meditation in private worship or in instruction.

Shrine
Nepal
Gilded bronze with stone and glass inlays
18th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1528

55
All the trademarks of Newari craftsmanship of the Kathmandu valley, Nepal, are present in this
large and impressive Buddhist shrine. Bronze sheet entirely covering a wooden base, the use of
ornate filigree and inlayed semi-precious stones, together with a rich blend of Buddhist art from
India and Tibet—all of these are typical features of the art produced in Nepal during the 18th and
19th centuries. The turquoise inlayed around the edges of the shrine, as well as its floral
ornamentation, allows for the three-dimensionality of the central image to emerge. Cut in clear rock
crystal, symbolising its pure and flawless nature, the image is of the four-armed bodhisattva of
compassion, Avalokiteshvara.

Shrine
Nepal
Gilded bronze with stone and glass inlays
Early 18th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1502

Similar in style to the free-standing Newari shrine in the Bower collection, this is a particularly fine
example of Newari art from the early 18th century. Reflecting the artistic interchange which existed
between Tibetan and Newari artists during the 17th century, a traditional technique is employed in
the detailed decoration of this piece, with thin sheets of coloured foil placed behind rock crystal, or
glass, to produce a vivid intensity of colour intended to match the rich hues of true precious stones.
The scrolling floral motif is executed in fine bronze filigree work with inset turquoise bordering two
central deities: Garuda, the mythical Hindu bird, carrying on his back a four-armed Avalokiteshvara,
the bodhisattva of compassion.

Prayer-wheel
Tibet
Bronze
19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1492

Prayer-wheel
Tibet
Bronze
19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1494

Rosary chain
Possibly Japan
Semi-precious stone
Edo Period, 20th century or before
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1500

As Tantric elements from Indian Buddhism moved north through Nepal into Tibet and beyond,
worship was deeply influenced by the power of sound and repetition. These two hand-held prayer-
wheels feature weighted drums which hold paper scrolls, tightly rolled, on which invocations
(mantras) are block-printed. By spinning the drum, these implements allow a worshipper to
`speak` the mantra with innumerable repetitions—creating powerful sound vibrations for deep
concentration or to summon particular Buddhist deities for protection or spiritual insight. This
meditative power of the mantra is similarly invoked with the rosary chain in which the worshipper
voices a mantra for each bead passed through the fingers.

Charm case
Tibet
Silver and copper
19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1517

Buddhist charm
Tibet
Bronze
19th century

56
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1521

This charm-box (gahu) is intended to hold within, wrapped in silk, a sacred relic or image similar to
that displayed alongside. This is an important and popular religious item in Tibetan Buddhism.
Typically worn around the neck by women, or else wrapped around the waist or the saddlebag, the
talisman inside is intended to protect against disease and misfortune in everyday life and during a
long journey. The gahu can also be used as a shrine or altar in the home, or be integrated into
elaborate festival costumes. Made from a variety of materials, including leather, wood, or metal, the
present gahu is of silver and copper. Fitted with an open window to view the contents, the box is
decorated with the eight auspicious Buddhist symbols of good fortune.

Stupa
Tibet
Gilded bronze
19th century
Denys Bower Bequest 01.1590

Stupa
Southeast India
Gilded bronze
17th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1569

Originating in earlier Indian belief, the stupa, or sacred burial mound, was adopted by Buddhism
and became an object of direct devotion in the years prior to the worship of the Buddha`s physical
image. The possession or dedication of portable stupas is recorded in Tibet as early as the 3rd
century BC, and would become a popular means of generating merit as well as offering an
appropriate container for relics and images. The second of the pieces shown here—an early bronze
stupa possibly from southeast India—is designed with a series of diminishing layers carved with
duplicated Buddhas. Its spire is similar in style to that of the later gilded bronze stupa from Tibet,
called a chorten, and represents the thirteen stages, or steps, to attaining Buddhahood. This
particular chorten has retained its painted image, which is rare for devotional stupas in foreign
collections.

Group of six seated lama


Gilded Bronze
Tibet
19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1575-01.1580

This rare group of six, gilded bronze portrait statues are each very different in their symbolic
postures, or mudras. Most probably they represent six different momentous occasions, or
characteristics, of a particularly lama—a revered teacher or monk. Honouring a deceased lama
through sculpture and paintings was considered a part of the spiritual legitimization of the various
monastic orders in Tibet, the personalities and lineages of their masters serving to associate a
particular order with the true transmission of the Buddha`s teachings, or dharma. Such specially
commissioned statues also became icons, and the spirit of the deceased was believed to reside
within the statue.

Statue of Padmasambhava
Bronze
Tibet
18th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1574

Although Mahayana Buddhism was declared the state religion of Tibet in 779, non-orthodox
teachings continued to influence the country’s religious development. Invited to Tibet by King
Trisong Detsen in the 8th century, Padmasambhava—known as the `Precious Guru`—brought with
him from what is now northern Pakistan esoteric Tantric Buddhism. He is recorded as having
subdued the local gods, and to have given them protective positions in the Buddhist pantheon.
Padmasambhava, now a popular devotional figure, is seen here holding a vajra (thunderbolt) in his
right hand, an emblem of Vajrayana Buddhism, or the `Diamond Path`.

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Statue of Vajrabhairava and his consort
Gilded bronze
Tibet
19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1617

The powerful appearance of this yab-yim (literally `father-mother`) sculpture introduces an aspect
of Tibetan religious art unfamiliar in the West: the concept of compassion and wisdom fusing
together in a union which transcends human desires, a central tenet of Vajrayana Buddhism. In this
gilded bronze statue, the thirty-four-armed Vajrabhairava, representing compassion, embraces his
female consort, a prajnya, who represents wisdom. Together they step forcefully to one side,
trampling harmful demons - a characteristic posture in yab-yim images.

Ritual dagger
Sino-Tibet
Bronze
19th-20th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1499

Despite the influence of Indian Buddhism (which first entered Tibet during the 7th century), Tibet`s
native Bon-po religion continued to thrive, as this phurpa, or ritual dagger, illustrates. The weapon
has a triangular-section blade shown emerging from the mouth of a Bon-po sea-monster, and a
handle topped with the head of Padmasambhava—an 8th century Buddhist master responsible for
taming Tibet`s local deities. The phurpa is commonly used to communicate with spirits by travelling
cosmic distances, or to subdue—literally `pin down`—harmful demons.

Vajra
Tibet
Bronze
19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest

Ghanta
Tibet
Bronze
19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1497

Together, the vajra and ghanta are the most important symbols of Vajrayana Buddhism. Originally
the emblem of the ancient Vedic god Indra, the vajra, or male symbol of compassion, has five
prongs which converge at each of its ends to signify the Absolute, or spirit, of Buddhahood.
Combined with the ghanta, the female symbol of wisdom, they express the concept of
complementary forces of male-female and compassion-wisdom.

Tangka
Painted textile
Tibet
18th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2946

Designed to roll up for easy transport from home to home or monastery to temple, a tangka`s main
purpose is devotional—a painted image housing the deities painted upon it. This tankga shows
Avalokiteshvara, Tibet`s most popular bodhisattva, holding a lotus flower and an akshamala (rosary
chain) and seated on a celestial throne of clouds, flanked by other protective deities. On his left
Manjusri, the bodhisattva of wisdom, cuts through ignorance and egotism with his sword. On his
right the bodhisattva Vajrapani protects the vajra, or `thunderbolt`, the symbol of Vajrayana
Buddhism. The tangka`s strong visual effect is intended to convey the timeless spirit of
Avalokiteshvara’s compassionate nature with distinctive, symbolic richness.

Tangka
Painted textile

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Tibet
18th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2947

Padmasambhava, the 8th century Buddhist master who was highly revered for bringing Tantric
teachings into Tibetan Buddhism, forms the focus of this colourful tangka. Seated on a lotus throne
and draped in sinuously flowing robes, the Green and White Taras flank his feet while a host of
tathagatas, or celestial Buddhas, sit above him. Padmasambhava is depicted holding several ritual
objects associated with Vajrayana Buddhism, including a kapala, or skull bowl, and a vajra, or
`thunderbolt`. The vibrant colour contrasts in this tangka, particularly the strong use of greens and
oranges, is a characteristic of the `New Menri` style which flourished between the 17th and 19th
centuries.

Tangka
Painted textile
Tibet
18th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.2948

The tangka, literally thang yig, or `written word`, is the most familiar form of Tibetan two-
dimensional art to be found in Western collections. Painted in thickly opaque watercolour on
stencilled cotton, the tangka`s bold colours are intended to convey a three-dimensional,
`breathing` reflection of the universe. In the present tangka a dakini, or tantric goddess, is
surrounded by a halo of fire and stands in chapastana, a position of mystical flight. She holds a skull
cup in her left hand with a hatchet, or kartika, raised above her head; to her right are two ritual
objects associated with Tantric practices. Normally displayed simply, hanging unrolled rather than
formally framed, the three-dimensional world of the tangka allows the devotee to unite on a cosmic
level with the depicted deity.

Statue of Tsong Khapa


Bronze and paint
Tibet
19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1554

In Tibetan Buddhism the creation of a portrait, in either sculpture or painting, is a powerful act of
devotion. Revered teachers and senior monks, or lamas, are a popular source of inspiration because
of their influence in the direction and development of Tibetan Buddhism. This bronze portrait statue
may depict Tsong Kapa (1357-1419), a highly revered religious reformer who lived during Tibet`s
prosperous and highly artistic `Middle Period` (15th-16th centuries). Tsong Khapa is legendary for
his creation of the Gelug Order, known as the `Yellow Church`—the dominant monastic order of
Tibet which includes the lineage of the Dali Lama.

Statue of Palden Lhamo


Painted bronze
Tibet
19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1571

Statue of Palden Lhamo


Gilded bronze
Tibet
19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1585

These two cast bronze images, their surfaces decorated respectively with paint and gilding, are
representations of the protective deity Palden Lhamo. Revered for her relentless compassion and
dedication to peace, she is said to have sacrificed her own children in order to prove to her war-
hungry husband the pain and folly of wilful killing. Palden Lhamo is typically depicted riding on a
mule, often along with her son`s body, vigorously fighting for peace in the universe. A popular deity
in Tibet, she is also the patron protector of Tibet`s capital city of Lhasa, as well as of the Gelug, the
order of the Dali Lama.

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Avalokiteshvara
Gilded bronze
18th century
Sino-Tibetan
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1539

Avalokiteshvara, or `all-seeing one`, is the patron bodhisattva of Tibet and revered in the many
forms in which he manifests his compassion. In this impressive, heavily gilded bronze statue,
Avalokiteshvara`s stature is enhanced with his twenty-four arms radiating outwards—each grasping
a ritual symbol associated with his dedicated compassion. The effect symbolizes his omniscient and
`far-reaching` ability to remove obstacles in the path of those travelling to enlightenment. Adorned
with crowns and sumptuous attire typical of a bodhisattva, his front pair of arms rest in meditation
(dhyana) and adoration (anjali) mudra, while extended above his head in a lotus throne is
Amitabha, a celestial Buddha known for his insight and ability to prolong life. The fine treatment in
the modelling of the face and the ample, lustrous gild work combine to make this a remarkable
example of 17th-18th century Sino-Tibetan art.

Buddha Shakyamuni
Gilded bronze
18th century
Sino-Tibetan
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1527

Buddha Shakyamuni
Gilded bronze
18th century
Sino-Tibetan
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1538

In the thorny, often fractious relationship between Tibet and China the exchange of artistic styles
through Buddhism was a consistent area of influence. A Chinese style that was closely influenced by
Tibetan artistry, Sino-Tibetan, reached its maturity under the lofty patronage of emperor Yongle
(1403-24), whom Tibetan artists served in his Beijing court. The simplistic modelling of these two
Buddha Shakyamuni statues characterizes this distinctive Sino-Tibetan artistry and the mingling of
styles that would later flourish in China. The rich, luminescent gilding found in Chinese art was
easily absorbed into the distinctively Tibetan style—noticeable here in the tightly knotted, blue-
painted hair and in the treatment of the robes that appear to pool around the feet in a supple,
naturalistic manner.

Vajradharva
Gilded bronze
Tibet
18th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1550

It is believed that when a bodhisattva reaches the moment of enlightenment it turns away—
delaying nirvana in order to return and help others reach salvation. The messianic urge of the
bodhisattva has made it a popular figure of Buddhism, with its role in the salvation of others
spreading east with Buddhism to China and Japan. Bodhisattvas appear in many forms, fierce and
calm, bedecked in celestial splendour and usually with distinctive attributes which serve to identify
them. In the present bronze, which is Tibetan, the celestial crown, sumptuously flowing robes and
crossed hands holding a ritual bell (ghanta) and `thunderbolt` (vajra) provide an identification as
the bodhisattva Vajradhara. Known as the `Primordial Buddha`, he was seen as an embodiment of
the Absolute-the spirit within Buddhist teachings (dharma).

Buddha Shakayumi
Gilded bronze
Sino-Tibetan
19th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1542

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The sinuous waist, tightly knotted hair and rich glow of its gilding betray the Sino-Tibetan origin of
this Buddha Shakyamuni. Often depicted holding an alms bowl in his lap, this earthly Buddha is
seated in padmasana, or meditation, and reaches with his right hand to the earth in
bhumisparsamudra. The scrolling pattern incised around the trim of his delicate robes and the
turquoise inset urna, or guiding light emanating from the Buddha`s forehead, reflect the earthly
Buddha in a moment of deep meditation.

Buddha Shakyamuni
Bronze
China
Ming Dynasty, 17th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1525

Buddha Shakyamuni
Bronze
China
Possibly Ming Dynasty, 16th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1480

Buddha Shakyamuni
Gilded bronze
China
Qing Dynasty, 18th century or earlier
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1549

These three delicately modelled bronze Buddhas represent the most popular style of Buddhist art in
the late Ming Dynasty of the 15th century. Commissioning the manufacture and distribution of
Buddhist statues such as these was viewed as generating merit—similar to the act of prayer-
repetition by a devotee, or the bulk printing of Buddhist scripture (sutras). The bronzes are almost
identical in form—with complacent facial expressions, thinly draped priestly robes thrown over the
right shoulder, and usnisa, or large knot on the top of the Buddha’s head to accommodate the
wisdom attained at his enlightenment; two out of the three display the auspicious Buddhist symbol
of the svastikah. Featured prominently on the chest, the svastikah—from the Sanskrit ‘to be
fortunate’—was used during the first four centuries after the Buddha’s death to symbolise his
presence when direct representations were considered taboo.

Buddha Shakyamuni
Lacquered bronze and paint detail
China
Ming Dynasty, 16th century or earlier
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1612

The exterior of this Buddha Shakyamuni cast in bronze has been finished in a gold lacquer,
bestowing a rich, emblazoned appearance. The enormous popularity of lacquer art in China reached
its apex in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), being employed in a variety of media, including metals,
which necessitated the development of specialist techniques and refinements. Although less durable
on bronze than the cold or fire gilding processes practiced by most Ming Dynasty artisans for
Buddhist statuary, gold lacquer continues the tradition of luminosity which typifies a Chinese style of
Buddhist statuary heavily influenced by Tibetan and Indian art. This Buddha is depicted in his most
characteristic pose—sitting on the open petals of a lotus blossom in meditation (dhyanasana),
reaching his right hand to the earth (bhumisparsamudra) while resting his left in his lap in a posture
(mudra) of meditation.

Buddha Shakyamuni
Gilded bronze
Sino-Tibetan
19th century or earlier
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1534

This finely gilded Buddhist image, represented with serene gaze and seated in the posture of
meditation (dhyanasana) on a lotus throne, is Tibetan in origin and dates from the 19th century or
later. The method employed to produce it and other such images is the ‘lost wax’ technique, which

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has been in almost universal use throughout the world since the days of ancient Egypt. An image
sculpted from clay is covered in thick layers of wax which are then re-surfaced with a second, outer
clay layer held in place by cross-wires. The entire assemblage is heated to melt away the wax layer
inside, with molten bronze introduced to take its place. After cooling the mould is broken apart to
reveal a freshly cast bronze image, the surface of which is then cleaned and polished before the
final addition of gilding and/or paint.

Statue of Amitabha

Gilded bronze, semi-precious stone


Sino-Tibetan
16th century or earlier
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1588

The blending of Tibetan and Chinese styles is readily apparent in this exquisitely modelled, early
Sino-Tibetan bronze. The thinly shaped torso characteristic of the central Tibetan (Pala) style lends
plasticity to its form, while the rich gilding typical of Chinese artistic influence conveys a deep
radiance intended to emphasize the illuminating essence of the Buddha’s teachings and laws
(dharma). The red stones inlayed in the disk-shaped earrings suggest that this statue depicts
Amitabha, known in Tibet as the celestial Buddha of eternal life—the one who rules the Western
Paradise (Sukhavati), described in the Lotus Sutra as a lush and boundless paradise awaiting those
who have follow the Buddhist path.

Figure of a warrior
Gilded Bronze
China
Ming Dynasty 15th-16th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1599

The distinctive attire and attractive modelling of this unusual Buddhist image would appear to
identify it as a representation of the beloved Chinese temple guardian Wei-To. Given the
responsibility by Buddha Shakyamuni to protect the dharma, or law and truth of the Buddha’s
teachings, Wei-To’s guarding presence is a familiar sight in most Buddhist temples—placed with his
back to the statue of Maitreya (Mi-Lo Fwo), the Buddha of the future, or positioned at selected
cross-roads to offer protection against evil. As principal of the thirty-two heavenly generals he is
often depicted in general’s armour and headdress, holding (as originally here) a small offering or
stupa.

Guanyin
Gilded bronze
China
late Ming Dynasty, 17th century or earlier
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1551

Guanyin
Gilded bronze
China
late Ming Dynasty, 17th century or earlier
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1609

During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) Buddhism would experience a surge of persecution—the
latter most notably by the Jiajing emperor (1522-1567), whose passionate Daoist beliefs led him to
decree the destruction of a great many Buddhist temples in China’s capital city, Beijing. Buddhism’s
survival, however, was assured, with a long-standing presence in China since the 1st century.
During this time the religion had developed along its own distinctive lines, integrating the influences
of India and Tibet, as seen here in two almost identical bronze statues of Avalokitshvara, or
Guanyin—a bodhisattva of compassion from the Indian Buddhist pantheon. The fleshy, ample,
feminine modelling of the torso and the placid expression of the face convey a plasticity that is
distinctively Chinese—expressing the assured, relaxed ease envisioned in the bodhisattva ideal.

Libation cup
Cloisonné, gilded brass and enamel

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China
Qing Dynasty, 19th century or earlier
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1531

Bowl
Cloisonné, gilded brass and enamel
China
Qing Dynasty, 19th century or earlier
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1532

Ewer
Cloisonné, gilded brass and enamel
China
Qing Dynasty, 19th century or earlier
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1533

The rich, Imperial yellow enamelling on this rare altar set is characteristic of a mature Chinese
cloisonné style of the late 19th century. In China, cloisonné—a surface decoration involving the
soldering of thin wires on a metal base to form decorative cells (cloisons) filled with powdered glass
which is then fused by heating—was first developed under the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) when
metal- and glass-working skills were first ingeniously combined. The liturgical vessels displayed here
show the technique at its Chinese peak, with yellow enamel set within frames of gilded brass and
finely executed scrolling motifs of the eight auspicious symbols of Buddhism. The set’s interest is
enhanced by its historical associations: it is reputed to have been presented to the Viceroy of India,
Lord Minto, in 1908 by the Tashi Lama of Tibet—an appeal for support during a series of intense
negotiations between Tibet, China and Russia, the outcome of which would determine Tibet’s fate.

Statue of Amitayas
Gilded bronze
China
Qing Dynasty, 18th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1562

Statue of Amitayas
Gilded bronze
China
Qing Dynasty, 18th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1563

Statue of Amitayas
Gilded bronze
China
Qing Dynasty, 18th century
Denys Eyre Bower Bequest 01.1564

The inscriptions on the thrones of these three images of the Buddha Amitayas record that they were
dedicated during the reign of Qianlong, fourth emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The rapid
expanse of Qianlong’s territories and heightened prosperity had allowed China to emerge as the
wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world. The intense curiosity Qianlong displayed in
Tibetan Buddhism, and his extensive patronage of it, fuelled a resurgence of artistic exchange
between the two nations—permitting the distinctive Sino-Tibetan style to fully develop from its 15th
century origins. Important because they survive as a set, the individual modelling of these images is
particularly interesting in that it exemplifies the typical Sino-Tibetan style of the era, here
characterized by a naturalistic gathering of the robes across the front of the throne to counter the
stiff two-dimensionality of the facial expressions.

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