Game Piece in the Form of a Lioness Wearing a Collar
Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art
On View: Pre-Dynastic, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
Almost all of the small figures in this case originally were placed in temples.
We do not know the significance of many of these early objects. The lion probably embodied divine or royal power, and frogs may have provided protection during childbirth, as in later times.
The figure of a squatting little boy in this case may have been offered to a god as the expression of a wish to bear children. The destructive powers of animals such as pigs, hippos, and scorpions could apparently be neutralized and even made useful through their images, as in the hippo-headed top of a mace (war club).
The ivory lioness was part of a common board game, of which partial sets have survived. The opposing side’s pieces were carved ivory figures of crouching lions or dogs.
ca. 3000-2675 B.C.E.
Dynasty 1 to Dynasty 2
early Dynastic Period
Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
Archaeological provenance not yet documented; before 1934, acquired by the Scheurleer Museum, the Hague, 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.
Small reclining lion of ivory. Probably a game piece. The piece is well modeled although the head suggests the mildness of a dog, rather than the power of a lion. The pose is free and suggests the naturalism of the period, Proto-dynastic probably of the 1st dynasty.
Condition: The piece is in very bad condition. One front leg missing, part of one head leg and a considerable portion of one side missing. The piece has been assembled from many parts and there are many chips and cracks.
Game Piece in the Form of a Lioness Wearing a Collar, ca. 3000-2675 B.C.E. Ivory, 1 1/4 x 2 3/16 in. (3.1 x 5.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 35.1273. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: , CUR.35.1273_58.128.1_erg3.jpg)
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