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Ba bird

The ancient Egyptians believed that a dead person’s ba, or soul, continued to exist after death.

The ba was depicted as a human-headed bird – like this figure. Being a winged creature, the ba could move about the tomb and even leave it to visit relatives in the land of the living.

Most ba birds were made from wood, but they could also be made from stone. This example, crudely fashioned from wood and hand-painted, is about 2300 years old. It dates back to roughly the time of Mehit.

Wood, pigments
Hellenistic Period, Dynasty of Ptolemy (about 300 BCE)
Provenance unknown
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, gift of A Russell, 1979

Click to view a 3-d spin of this object

Click here to view a Quicktime spin of this object. (2.9MB)

Click on the thumbnails below to see some highlights from the exhibition:
Ba Bird Ka figure Shabti Forgery of a royal shabti Mummified ibis