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Female Figurine

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Old Kingdom to 18th Dynasty, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
Statuettes of naked women with incomplete legs, like this example, have been found in Middle Kingdom tombs and houses. Early Egyptologists mistakenly identified them as concubines intended to provide the spirits of men with an eternity of sexual pleasure.

Recent studies show that both men and women used these figures to ensure fertility. In the home, they were believed to enhance a wife’s fruitfulness and a husband’s potency by invoking Hathor, the goddess of sexual love. As tomb offerings, they guaranteed the deceased’s sexual power in the afterlife.
MEDIUM Faience
  • Place Made: Egypt
  • DATES ca. 1938–1630 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY Dynasty 12 to early Dynasty 13
    PERIOD Middle Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS 2 x 5 3/16 in. (5.1 x 13.1 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    PROVENANCE Archaeological provenance not yet documented; by 1944, acquired by Spink and Son, London, United Kingdom; 1944, purchased from Spink and Son by the Brooklyn Museum.
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    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Faience figurine of a dancing-girl. Turquoise blue glaze with details (hair, eyes, and eyebrows, ornaments) in purplish black. The figure is rather well-modeled, with slender waist and swelling thighs. The upper arms are free from the body, but hands and lower arms lie close to the thighs. The legs end (as is frequent in servant-figurines of the period) in rounded stumps at the knees. The girl wears a “Hathor” wig with spiral curls in front and straight, squared lock in back, and is nude save for a girdle of cowrie-shells and beads and bead necklaces, indicated by black markings. Black dots arranged in lozenges on legs probably indicate tattooing. The pubic triangle is emphasized by black dots. Condition: Broken through the middle and repaired. Black spots worn in places. Brownish traces of (?) clay mould. Otherwise perfect.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Old Kingdom to 18th Dynasty, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
    CAPTION Female Figurine, ca. 1938–1630 B.C.E. Faience, 2 x 5 3/16 in. (5.1 x 13.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 44.226. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 44.226_SL1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 44.226_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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