Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art
On View: Morris A. and Meyer Schapiro Gallery, 4th Floor
The fish represented here is the Nile perch (or boltí), whose breeding habits attracted the Egyptians' attention. After the female perch lays her eggs, the fish draws them into her mouth, where they stay until they hatch and the young emerge. The Egyptians saw this as a kind of spontaneous generation and thus took the perch as a symbol of resurrection and rebirth. The figure is hollow and contains several clay pellets, representing the eggs. When shaken, the piece served as a rattle, perhaps to soothe a crying baby.
ca. 1390-1336 B.C.E.
late XVIII Dynasty
2 9/16 x 4 7/16 x 1 1/4 in. (6.5 x 11.2 x 3.2 cm) (show scale)
Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
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Fish, ca. 1390-1336 B.C.E. Clay, pigment, 2 9/16 x 4 7/16 x 1 1/4 in. (6.5 x 11.2 x 3.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 48.111. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 48.111_SL1.jpg)
overall, 48.111_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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Painted pottery fish, interior hollow and fitted with six unpainted pottery pellets. Face area, tail, dorsal and anus fins and underbody painted light blue. Scales painted with black outline on tan background, in part colored blue and red. Eyes, mouth and gills incised. Anus in raised relief. Possibly a rattle but more probably a food offering intended to furnish supply of fish to deceased.
Condition: Minor chips on tail and fins. Tail assembled from two pieces. Pellets probably represent eggs.
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