Online Collections at UoB - Objects
ID number: ECM 639
Named collection: The Eton Myers Collection
Title / Object name: Beeswax Falcon Figurine
Object type: Figurine
Date made: Late Period (ca. 664-332 BCE)
Collector: Myers, William Joseph
Measurements: overall: 6.40 cm x 2.40 cm x 5.90 cm (H x W x D)
Well modelled figure of a falcon, with great surface detail, on a rectangular base.
Bibliography: For more information about the use of beeswax in ancient Egypt, see
Z. Shoosmith 2016 'Life Through Wax: Beeswax in ancient Egypt' in S. Boonstra (ed.) Objects Come to Life Virtual Exhibition, Birmingham Egyptology.
Notes: The level of detail on this figure suggests it was intended for use in the 'lost wax' casting process. In lost wax casting, a detailed model is first made in wax, as it is easy to sculpt. The wax model would then be encased in clay, which would be allowed to harden. The clay could then be heated to melt the wax, leaving a negative space identical to the original model. When filled with metal, this would then produce a finely detailed metal replica. Metal pieces made using the lost wax casting process include the uraeus and vulture on Tutankhamun's death mask and the Harvard falcon figurine.
Beeswax in ancient Egypt was associated with life. It was easy to sculpt, allowing an individual to mimic the god Khnum, who made life on a potter's wheel. Beeswax was also associated with the solar god Re whose tears were said to have turned into the first bees. The life-giving symbolism of beeswax made it useful to help the dead into the afterlife. Amulets such as scarabs and ankhs were sometimes made of wax. Mummy portraits could also be given life-like textures with beeswax and metal sculptures could be made more detailed through 'lost wax casting'. Models made with wax could be used when vitality was needed either to help or harm a person. Destroying a model enemy was seen to destroy the threat of an actual enemy. A wax model could also encourage healing or aid rebirth into the afterlife. Consequently wax models could be used in a wide range of circumstances and were common in Egyptian society.
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