Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art
On View: Pre-Dynastic, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
This flat, extremely elongated figure wears only a penis sheath. The arms, now mostly lost, originally extended down along the figure’s body. Inlays of another material once filled the vacant eyeholes.
ca. 3800-3650 B.C.E.
Predynastic Period, early Naqada I Period
Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
Archaeological provenance not yet documented; 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.
Free-standing elongated ivory figure of a man wearing a so-called Libyan sheath. Eyes circular and originally inlaid. Prominent ears, elongated face. Legs entirely in the round. Few details indicated on body. Arms, now missing, were very elongated, extending down well onto thighs.
Condition: Arms missing. Inlay of eyes missing. Back of head missing.
Male Statuette, ca. 3800-3650 B.C.E. Ivory, 11/16 x 7 1/16 in. (1.8 x 17.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 35.1268. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 35.1268_front_PS6.jpg)
front, 35.1268_front_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
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Why's this guy so long?!
We're not sure. This figure dates to the earliest part of Egyptian civilization referred to as the "Predynastic Period;" it predates writing and many of the iconographic or spiritual beliefs we know of Egyptian civilization. It may be because of the material itself. The shape and size may have been restricted by the shape and size of the tusk it was made from.
Tell me more.
Not many people ask about this statuette from very early in ancient Egyptian history. The inlaid eyes were likely made from lapis lazuli, a brilliant blue stone that had to be imported from Afghanistan.
It's possible that this statuette was related to the cult of the god Min, a fertility god represented as a nude male. Min was very popular in certain regions of early Egypt and remained important for thousands of years.