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Nun Vessel

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

In ancient Egyptian origin myths, dark blue and black were colors of the primordial waters that the Egyptians called nun, or nonexistence. Faience bowls, popular in the New Kingdom, were often decorated with motifs that evoked marshland, recalling the waters of nun. The square in the center of this bowl is a pond from which lotus buds and flowers grow. The lotus blossoms symbolize life emerging from the waters of nonexistence.
MEDIUM Faience
  • Reportedly From: Akhmim, Egypt
  • DATES ca. 1539–1500 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY early Dynasty 18
    PERIOD New Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS 3 7/16 × Diam. 10 3/8 in. (8.8 × 26.3 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Large blue faience bowl. Interior elaborately decorated with painted square pond in center from which grow lotus buds and flowers. Exterior, decorated with single large lotus calyx. Condition: Intact. Very minor chips on rim. Glaze worn in spots on interior. Some ancient incrustation on interior. Glaze and decorations very worn on exterior. Good workmanship.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Nun Vessel, ca. 1539–1500 B.C.E. Faience, 3 7/16 × Diam. 10 3/8 in. (8.8 × 26.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 40.298. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 40.298_edited_SL1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 40.298_edited_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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