Skip Navigation

Hippopotamus Tusk with Carved Head

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Pre-Dynastic, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
This figure’s face includes a long beard and carved ears. The tip of the tusk resembles a tall cap and the lower part suggests a cloaked body, but no details are shown. A hole in the top indicates that the figure was suspended, but its use and meaning are not known.
MEDIUM Hippopotamus ivory
  • Reportedly From: Naqada, Egypt
  • DATES ca. 3800–3400 B.C.E.
    PERIOD Predynastic Period, Naqada I-early Naqada II
    DIMENSIONS 8 5/8 × 1 5/16 in. (21.9 × 3.3 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    PROVENANCE Archaeological provenance not yet documented, reportedly from Nagade, Egypt; by 1910, acquired by Friedrich Wilhelm von Bissing; before 1934, acquired from von Bissing by the Scheurleer Museum, the Hauge, the Netherlands; 1935, purchased from the Scheurleer Museum by the Fondation Egyptologique Reine Elisabeth; 1935, purchased from the Fondation Egyptologique Reine Elisabeth by the Brooklyn Museum.
    Provenance FAQ
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Ivory tusk, lower part of cylindrical form, tapering at top to point, carved into head of bearded man surmounted by headdress, pierced for suspension. Ears in relief with details indicated only by incised cross. Large eyes, wide nose. Lip around base of object. Object is hollow to approximately half of total height. Condition: Chip on base, several longitudinal cracks. Back of object is checking, with some flaking. Split through face. General condition sound.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Pre-Dynastic, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
    CAPTION Hippopotamus Tusk with Carved Head, ca. 3800–3400 B.C.E. Hippopotamus ivory, 8 5/8 × 1 5/16 in. (21.9 × 3.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 35.1266. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, CUR.35.1266_erg3.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, CUR.35.1266_erg3.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 10/15/2007
    "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.
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
    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 (charges apply). 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
    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.