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Fertility Statuette of a Woman

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Egypt Reborn: Art for Eternity, Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor

Scholars once thought that nude female figurines of this type—with incomplete legs, jewelry, often an elaborate hairdo, and sometimes tattoos—served as symbolic concubines for men in the afterlife. We now know, however, that they functioned as fertility figurines for both men and women. Most were dedicated in shrines of Hathor and other goddesses by those hoping to have a child.

MEDIUM Limestone, painted
  • Place Made: Egypt
  • DATES ca. 1938-1539 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY XII Dynasty-XVII Dynasty
    PERIOD Middle Kingdom-Second Intermediate Period
    DIMENSIONS 4 5/8 x 1 7/8 in. (11.8 x 4.7 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Fertility Statuette of a Woman, ca. 1938-1539 B.C.E. Limestone, painted, 4 5/8 x 1 7/8 in. (11.8 x 4.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 48.25. Creative Commons-BY
    IMAGE overall, CUR.48.25_erg456.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 9/6/2007
    "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.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Limestone statuette of concubine. Body nude with hands held at sides. Figure ends at knees. On front half of head a wig painted black with conventional square incisions. Rear half of head shaved and painted with dot pattern except for three braids which hang down on to body. Wig is undercut above shoulders. Entire body may have been glazed as there are remains of pale blue on base. Faint traces of armlets and band above hips. Condition: Intact. Surface dirty.
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