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Fragment of "Magic Knife"

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Egypt Reborn: Art for Eternity, Special Exhibitions, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
Used for magical protection, objects like this one are today commonly called “knives” because of their shape. The feline head on the end of this one draws upon the animal’s protective qualities. An early representation of the god Bes, or a Bes-like deity, incised on the knife enhances its magical potency.

Ancient Egyptians placed knives like this one on the stomachs of pregnant women during childbirth and on newborns to repel demons and disease. In the tomb, such knives provided protection for the deceased.
MEDIUM Frit
  • Place Made: Egypt
  • DATES ca. 1759-after 1630 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY XIII Dynasty
    PERIOD Middle Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS 1 3/8 x 3 9/16 in. (3.5 x 9 cm)  (show scale)
    ACCESSION NUMBER 16.580.145
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Evangeline Wilbour Blashfield, Theodora Wilbour, and Victor Wilbour honoring the wishes of their mother, Charlotte Beebe Wilbour, as a memorial to their father, Charles Edwin Wilbour
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Fragment of "Magic Knife," ca. 1759-after 1630 B.C.E. Frit, 1 3/8 x 3 9/16 in. (3.5 x 9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Evangeline Wilbour Blashfield, Theodora Wilbour, and Victor Wilbour honoring the wishes of their mother, Charlotte Beebe Wilbour, as a memorial to their father, Charles Edwin Wilbour , 16.580.145. Creative Commons-BY
    IMAGE overall, 16.580.145_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2013
    "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.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Fragment of magic wand in deep blue frit. End with lion’s head in relief on both sides; shaft incised on one side with human legs supporting a vase and Bes holding serpents; on other, lion’s legs supporting jackal-head and tail and portion of body of Sebek-crocodile on stand. Condition: Fragment. Some chips in preserved portion. Glaze has lost luster but preserved lapis-lazuli color.
    RECORD COMPLETENESS Best (84%)
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