Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art
On View: Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
So-called paddle dolls are flat, schematic representations of naked, legless female figures on which jewelry, belts, and other details have been painted or drawn. Made as fertility figures, they were dedicated to goddesses by women or couples hoping to have children. Some are adorned with strings of mud pellets, apparently imitating hair. Many also have painted images— possibly representing tattoos—of deities such as Bes and Taweret or of human couples in sexual embrace.
Wood, mud, pigment
ca. 2081-1700 B.C.E.
Dynasty 11 to early Dynasty 13
9 x 2 5/8 x 3/16 in. (22.8 x 6.7 x 0.5 cm)Measurements: Ht. 22.8 cm.; greatest width c. 6.7 cm.; thickness 0.5 cm. (show scale)
Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
Flat wooden female figurine with details of anatomy and garment painted in red and black on the front.
Tied around the neck are five strings of gray mud pellets, probably representing hair, and the knots and ends of the strings are glued to the back of the head with a dark adhesive. The figures of Ta-weret and a crocodile are painted on the front.
Condition: The ends of the arms are broken off, and there are two holes through the left center. The right lower edge is broken away and has been gnawed by rodents. The back is covered with grayish dirt, and there are diagonal score lines across the front.
Paddle Doll, ca. 2081-1700 B.C.E. Wood, mud, pigment, 9 x 2 5/8 x 3/16 in. (22.8 x 6.7 x 0.5 cm)Measurements: Ht. 22.8 cm.; greatest width c. 6.7 cm.; thickness 0.5 cm. Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.102E. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, CUR.37.102E_NegA_print_bw.jpg)
. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2010
"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.
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
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 email@example.com
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.
Tell me more.
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, called a menat, may have also been used as rattle.
The Egyptians considered music and sound 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.