The Egyptians' concept of universal order stressed the difference between the fertile Nile Valley and the barren expanse of desert flanking civilized life. The desert sheltered the hostile forces of chaos, including the god Seth and his malevolent agents, often represented in animal form.
The oryx, a desert antelope, was seen as an incarnation of the evil threatening to destroy Ma'at. Thus the motif of the bound oryx symbolized the Egyptians' persistent need to hold the forces of disorder in check.
Wooden toilet dish in the form of a bound oryx. Feet folded under body bound with four thongs. Head in the round with horns connected at their ends to body. Tail curved against body. One side of body hollowed in roughly oval shape to serve as container. Fine workmanship. Condition: Slight restoration in gesso near feet. One section of horn (on convex side of disk) a restoration probably of late XIXth century. Horns had warped slightly. Details of horn filled with plastic wood.