Skip Navigation

Mirror with Papyrus Handle Featuring Two Ibex Heads

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

The Egyptians associated mirrors with female sexuality and rebirth. Women needed mirrors to apply cosmetics and style their hair. Mirrors were thereby intimately connected with the eroticism that led to rebirth.

Mirrors were also a symbol of cosmic creation. The disc of the mirror on a papyrus-plant handle symbolized the moment when the creator-god emerged from the primordial swamp in the form of the sun. Creation then subdued the chaos of the deserts, here represented by the two ibex heads. This symbolic depiction of the original creation served as an aid to the self’s re-creation in the tomb.
  • Place Made: Egypt
  • DATES ca. 1539–1292 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY Dynasty 18
    PERIOD New Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS Other (handle): 4 3/16 x 3 9/16 x 13/16 in. (10.7 x 9 x 2 cm) Other (disk): 4 1/8 x 3 3/4 x 5/16 in. (10.5 x 9.5 x 0.8 cm)  (show scale)
    ACCESSION NUMBER 75.168a-b
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Bronze mirror in two parts; papyriform handle ends in an umbel topped with two ibex heads, facing out; their horns meet in the center. A rectangular socket in the handle received the trapezoidal tenon from the disk itself which is ellipsoid in shape. Condition: Scratched and in several areas on both handle and disk with bronze disease.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Mirror with Papyrus Handle Featuring Two Ibex Heads, ca. 1539–1292 B.C.E. Bronze, Other (handle): 4 3/16 x 3 9/16 x 13/16 in. (10.7 x 9 x 2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 75.168a-b. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 75.168a-b_front_PS4.jpg)
    IMAGE front, 75.168a-b_front_PS4.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2016
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
    You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this three-dimensional work in accordance with a Creative Commons license. Fair use, as understood under the United States Copyright Act, may also apply. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form (charges apply). For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch. For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright. If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact
    Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.