The statuette depicts a crouching ibis, a manifestation of the god Thoth, one of the most important deities of the Egyptian pantheon, whose main shrine was situated in the city of Hermopolis Magna in Middle Egypt.
The animal’s head, tail and feet are in bronze, whereas the body is made of plastered and gilded wood. It is notable for the particularly refined anatomical rendering of the head, with inlaid vitreous paste for the eyes, as well as the tail and the plumage. The feet are modelled realistically and with particular care.
The statuette would have contained the mummy of an ibis. On occasions such as feast days and processions, the priests of the cult would take statuettes like this one from the temple to Thoth in Hermopolis to the nearby sacred necropolis of Tuna el-Gebel, where they were placed in underground tunnels. The custom of mummifying animals considered sacred and making votive statuettes became very popular during the Late Age, although the practice was also known in more distant times, and continued even under Roman rule.