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An Eternal Bouquet for the Dead

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: 19th Dynasty to Roman Period, Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Gallery, 3rd Floor

This relief of an elaborate floral bouquet, to which ducks are bound below a broad-collar necklace, was the left end of a tomb door lintel. At first glance a decorative floral piece, the bouquet is actually a symbol of life. All its elements are symbols of fertility and regeneration. The necklace symbolizes protection, and the bound ducks the control of malign forces that might threaten the dead. Related Late Period reliefs come from northern Egypt and often show, as does this relief, the influence of works from much earlier periods.

MEDIUM Limestone, pigment
  • Place Made: Egypt
  • DATES 4th century B.C.E.
    PERIOD Late Period
    DIMENSIONS H: 30.3cm; W: 17cm
    ACCESSION NUMBER 57.165.1
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Fragment of a limestone relief from the left end of a panel (lintel?). In low relief of exceptional quality, a 'formal bouquet' of lotus flowers and buds, papyrus and corn flowers, wsh necklace and two ducks pinioned to a bundle of reeds. Left end and upper edge enclosed within border. Baseline preserved. Condition: Right side of relief badly eroded by sand. Numerous chips on worked surface. Remains of light red paint in one place on upper border.
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