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Kohl Tube in the Form of a Fish

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

The ancient Egyptians stored kohl, an eyeliner made from galena, in many different types of containers. The pear-shaped pot and the fish were two possible forms for holding kohl. The fish, which was also a popular fertility symbol, connects the role of the highlighted eyes with Egyptian conceptions of beauty.
MEDIUM Egyptian alabaster (calcite)
  • Place Made: Africa
  • DATES ca. 1539-1292 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY XVIII Dynasty (possibly)
    PERIOD New Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS 1 5/8 x 1 1/8 x 4 3/8 in. (4.1 x 2.9 x 11.1 cm)  (show scale)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 11.668
    CREDIT LINE Museum Collection Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Kohl Tube in the Form of a Fish, ca. 1539-1292 B.C.E. Egyptian alabaster (calcite), 1 5/8 x 1 1/8 x 4 3/8 in. (4.1 x 2.9 x 11.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Collection Fund, 11.668. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 11.668_side1_PS2.jpg)
    IMAGE side, side 1, 11.668_side1_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2007
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    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Alabaster figure of a fish with hollow body with opening through mouth. Use uncertain, probably to be used as a kohl tube. Compare with 37.316E. Condition: General condition good. Tail slightly chipped, mouth chipped. Eyes incised. Wear around edges of the mouth suggest heavy use.
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