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Jar with Boat Designs

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
Originally this pot was suspended with string through holes in the three handles. The three painted boats all include palm branches at the prow, what may be oars along the bottom, and two cabins on deck. Each cabin houses a female figure flanked by smaller males, possibly representing a goddess and her priests. The upraised arms and long skirt of the female figures resemble those on the slightly earlier terracotta statuette in a nearby case, but the heads look very different.
MEDIUM Clay, pigment
  • Place Excavated: Adaima, Egypt
  • DATES ca. 3450–3350 B.C.E.
    PERIOD Predynastic Period to middle Naqada II Period
    DIMENSIONS 6 7/8 x greatest diam. 8 1/4 in. (17.5 x 20.9 cm)  (show scale)
    ACCESSION NUMBER 09.889.400
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    PROVENANCE Tomb no. 1, Adaima, Egypt; between December 1907 and January 1908, excavated by Henri de Morgan of Francescas, France and New York, NY; 1909, purchased from Henri de Morgan by the Brooklyn Museum.
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    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Inverted pear-shaped jar of pale red pottery. Flattened base. Rather wide, somewhat oval mouth. Moulded lip sharply offset from high shoulder by neck-groove. Around shoulder, three string hole handles, cuneiform, horizontally perforated on the upper, broader and higher end. Decoration in reddish painting showing three boats (each between two handles). They are typical: curved, with two cabins a double branch at the bow. The standards, raised on the outer edge of the rear cabin, are different in each boat. On each boat a nude woman, frontally drawn, in geometric stylization, with arms raised above the head, hands (fingered) bent over to crown of head, stands on the inner edge of the roof of the central cabin. Two nude men or boys, drawn in classical-Egyptian profile, on either side of her, touch her shoulders. One, standing on the outer edge of the same cabin, is slightly larger than the other, standing on the inner edge of the rear cabin. On the second boat, the smaller one is replaced by a dotted line, the larger one, (paint now gone) perhaps also. Above the stern of the first boat a “sycamore tree,” above that of the third, three flamingos, above that of the second an oblique vertical band of short horizontal S-lines, perhaps representing rain. A similar line runs horizontally below the bow of each boat, and is used three times as a space filler above the third boat. The “air” of the first boat is empty; these designs obviously have some mythological or calendrical significance. On shoulder, from neck to top of handles, six circling “water lines”; on the handle between third and first boats a lattice of horizontal lines between two vertical ones; on the next handle, three vertical lines; on the last, median space now abraded. Lower third of body unpainted.Important document of prehistoric civilization. Condition: Chip in lip. Lip abraded. Paint abraded in center of second boat picture.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
    CAPTION Jar with Boat Designs, ca. 3450–3350 B.C.E. Clay, pigment, 6 7/8 x greatest diam. 8 1/4 in. (17.5 x 20.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 09.889.400. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 09.889.400_SL1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 09.889.400_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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