Tomb Painting of a Woman with Offerings
Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art
On View: Old Kingdom to 18th Dynasty, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
This fragment of wall painting from a tomb depicts a woman sitting on a green mat, inhaling the fragrance of a blue lotus. Sealed jars of beer and wine rest under a table loaded with other offerings of white and yellow loaves of bread and a dark red calf’s head. A grid of red lines that guided the draftsman in positioning the objects and proportioning the figures shows through where the paint has worn thin.
Limestone, gesso, pigment
ca. 1539-1425 B.C.E.
10 1/16 x 11 1/2 x 1/8 in. (25.6 x 29.2 x 0.4 cm) (show scale)
Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
Archaeological provenance not yet documented; before 1905, acquired by an unidentified dealer; 1905, purchased in Egypt from an unidentified dealer by W. M. Flinders Petrie for the Brooklyn Museum.
Small fragment of a tomb painting with seated woman at right holding a lotus. Before her is a large table of offerings. The painting retains its background of red guide lines. All objects including the figure of the woman are outlined in red. The flesh of the woman is the usual yellow and her dress is white. The pottery is red and the offerings yellow and white. The pavement is a delicate blue, most of which has flaked off.
Condition: The painting has been set into a shallow frame and filled out with plaster painted a deep pink. There are many cracks and small gaps, though the surface is in good condition.
Technique: The gesso is laid on a base of mud and straw (or rushes).
Tomb Painting of a Woman with Offerings, ca. 1539-1425 B.C.E. Limestone, gesso, pigment, 10 1/16 x 11 1/2 x 1/8 in. (25.6 x 29.2 x 0.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 05.390. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, CUR.05.390_erg2.jpg)
. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 10/16/2007
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Does the blue lotus symbolize something special in ancient Egyptian society?
They sure do! In fact there are a few layers to their meaning: the flower, the Nile, and the color blue. Flowers were symbols of rebirth because they die and come back each year.
The Nile of course was the source of life in ancient Egypt, so water plants were revered for their relationship to the river. Blue was significant both for its association with life-giving water, the waters of creation, and the precious stone lapis lazuli.
Additionally, the scent of the lotus was prized in Egypt and often used in perfumes.