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Paddle Doll

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

The term paddle doll dates to archaeologists’ first discovery of such objects in the early twentieth century. Today, Egyptologists understand these objects not as dolls, but as representations of musicians who doubled as midwives. The necklaces they wear represent a musical instrument called a menat in Egyptian.

The Egyptians considered music to be a therapeutic or even magical element aiding childbirth. When these images were included in the tomb, they could help ease the pain of rebirth into the next life.
MEDIUM Wood, pigment
  • Place Made: Egypt
  • DATES ca. 2008–1630 B.C.E.
    PERIOD Middle Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS 8 7/8 x 2 7/16 x 1/4 in. (22.6 x 6.2 x 0.6 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Flat wooden female figurine with details of anatomy, garment and jewelry painted in red and black on both sides. Probably a servant figurine, also referred to as a paddle doll. Condition: Left arm is missing, and part of the head and right arm have been broken off. There are two holes through the figure, one below the head and the other near the bottom. The edges are generally worn, especially the lower left. There are diagonal lines scored across the front and the back, and patches of grayish dirt.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Paddle Doll, ca. 2008–1630 B.C.E. Wood, pigment, 8 7/8 x 2 7/16 x 1/4 in. (22.6 x 6.2 x 0.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.103E. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 37.103E_front_PS4.jpg)
    IMAGE front, 37.103E_front_PS4.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2016
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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